Elements of User Interface

Posted by & filed under Game Culture Class, Reading Response.

When it comes to user interfaces and their ways of communicating information to a player there are four mains elements which convey this information: diegetic, non- diegetic, spatial and meta. All of these forms are abundant in today’s video games and each of them has a certain impact upon the player depending on how it’s represented and the notions of the player.

Diegetic elements are those which are presented to the player as if they actual elements in the game. The articles gave several examples of games that use these types of examples; one of these was Dead Space which displays the avatars health as a meter on a high tech suit. Another game which makes extensive use of diegetic elements in its gameplay is Far Cry 2, which uses real world items to portray information to the player. A prime example of this is Far Cry 2’s map system the avatar would hold up a map in the game and the player’s whereabouts and other points would show up on the players map.

Non-diegetic elements are items and pieces of the interface that are rendered outside of the game world.  The characters and other game elements to don’t interact nor are they affected by these elements they are simply a means of commuting information directly to the player. Some designers try to finesse elements like this by trying to make them fit in with the theme of the game or disguising them as a HUD in a more futuristic game.

The other to informational elements are spatial and meta. Spatial elements are constructed and rendered within the games 3D environment yet they don’t actually exist in the game world. Meta elements are representations that are in the game world but not visualized, i.e. blood spatter on the screen.

Personally I don’t not feel like non-diegetic elements as a whole distract from gameplay. Some attempts at non-diegetic representations might but this is true for all of the other representation types as well.   As long as the player is given the information in a clear and clean way the elements that represent it are not distracting. As a player I am able to accept things in games such as HUD’s and non-diegetic elements because I know I’m playing a game. I have already overcome the largest abstraction to a player the controller surly I can overcome non diegetic elements and consume the information they give and then let them mold into the game world.

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