Game Development Reference
For example, in Majesty 2 , a role-playing game in which the player is the ruler
of the land, a single mission is split into subgoals displayed as a list in the
bottom left corner of the screen. As these goals are achieved, the subgoals are
visibly ticked off.
As we've already established, the human brain loves to work with patterns.
Metaphors are the perfect example of how we love to liken one thing to
another and how we make sense of new imagery from our experiences.
The perfect example of this with respect to game mechanics and
interfaces is the play button first appearing on original analogue sound-
playing devices. The little triangle with its right-facing apex is a universally
understood icon—so much so that it is used in games to indicate play with
the meaning of either starting the game or, if in the game, unpausing it
to make game time run forward. Play and its counterparts (stop, pause,
rewind, and fast forward) appear in all manner of games from Project
Gotham , SimCity , and The Sims . This recognition of well-known icons
extends to other imagery in your interface. For example, a small floppy
disk is often used to represent Save (although nowadays younger players
will not have even seen a real one).
Two popular metaphors that have arisen purely within the game domain are
the space bar for jump and holding down the shift key to run. Although they
are not visual metaphors they are still part of the user interface and clearly
illustrate how metaphors can be leveraged. Any seasoned desktop computing
gamer will expect that these exist in any new FPS game without even reading
Metaphors also extend to any menu systems in the game. Since the Mac OS
and Windows 3.1 moved to the menu strip across the top of applications, all
desktop users, even gamers, expect to find save and open functionality under
the File menu option.
Colors are also metaphoric. The use of the correct color immediately conveys
messages to the player without words or other imagery: for example, red
represents something bad, such as an error, low health, or danger; yellow
represents a warning or that caution is needed; and green is good. Although
the interpretation of some colors is culturally dependent, 1 these three colors
are consistent globally thanks to the UNESCO Vienna Convention on Road
Signs and Signals that defines the traffic light colors worldwide.
Your use of color in a game interface can represent the state of a player, object,
or character. It also assists in the differentiation of game elements; for example,
1 In Western culture the color white is associated with weddings and the color black with
funerals. In Japanese cultural heritage, this is the opposite, with black being considered to
bring good luck at weddings.