[games_access] "Can there be an interface standard in computer games?"

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Sat Feb 11 09:12:11 EST 2006

Copied this from our forum here: 

I would like to start a discussion about user interfaces in games. Can there 
be an interface standard in computer games? Would this be a good idea or is 
this just another way to restrict creativity? Is it wise to generalize such 
a vital part of a game, just to improve accessibility? Or wouldn't it be 
helpful to scale the GUI complexity to the complexity of the player's 

Compare the standard World of Warcraft interface before and after the usage 
of dozens of plugins which help one to deal with the enormous amount of 
information. Wasn't this predictable in the designer's eyes that the default 
GUI wouldn't satisfy the user's needs when the game reached a certain 
progress? Or let's ask "Can we predict the growing complexity of games, 
especially MMORGPs, at all?"

I think it would be very handy if an interface scales with the tasks I do. 
Practically invisible when I just travel through the virtual world and 
massively present providing me with any critical information possible when I 
badly need it. But who judges what's important for me and what's not?

Can it be said that there are quasi GUI standards in game genres? We know 
they exist, indeed. For example in RTS games but what's about RPGs? Are 
there common ways of displaying certain features like the character menu and 
the inventory?

I looked through the RPGs of the last years and summarise: Yes there are 
similarities but most interfaces are spoiled with needless visual features. 
Fullscreen inventories hinder you from accessing items during combat quickly 
and inappropriate usage/design of images and icons distracts the user from 
selecting the right commands.

So I ask "Is it possible to generally formulate guidelines for successful 
user interface in our games?"

Computer Science Student
Vienna University of Technology
AesA - founder and committee member 

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