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I'm making a baby toy/game to learn numbers and I have a menu with 3 buttons. The first button enters "learn mode", the second button is an easy quiz, and the third button is a medium quiz.

Are there standard colors for difficulty?

European skiing would say Green/Blue/Red, while American may say Green/Blue/Black. Though I'd rather have high saturation colors so kids can easily remember and enjoy them. I also thought maybe a Green/Yellow/Red traffic light convention may work.

A related question: How to represent level of difficulty while selecting a game?

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My initial thought was traffic lights, as you suggest, and green seems to say "learn" to me - just a thought. I can't image black being particularly appealing to little kids. –  w3d Sep 8 '12 at 23:49
    
European ski slopes would say Green - Blue - Red - Black, though. –  JOG Sep 10 '12 at 7:04

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I dont think you will get a definite answer to this since the colors you choose will have to mesh well with your game design and background. However I would recommend making the choices prominent and if possible use pictorial representations to show what each level might be. here is a good example :

enter image description here

Alternatively you could go with a color scheme which has color shades different from the previous level but does not have a sharp contrast which might make it stand out but is definite enough to be noticed

enter image description here

Alternatively you could just go for simple textual descriptions like below :

enter image description here

However since your target audience is kids and what ever color scheme you for, ensure that you use bright colors as kids are more likely to respond to that as per this article about Color Psychology In Marketing

Ever notice that toys, books and children's web sites usually contain large blocks of bright, primary colors? Young children prefer these colors and respond more positively than they do to to pastels or muted blends.

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European ski slopes also have black.

Mountain bike trails are also green, blue, red and black. Since this project is for younger ages, I'd skip the black.

Such sporting activities as skiing, biking and others also make use of shapes to further differentiate, rather than using colours alone - thus appealing (or not) to the subconscious.

So for example a green circle is curvy and friendly; the blue square is not curvy, and the red triangle is very pointy and much less friendly (while black diamond is both pointy and absent of colour making it the least attractive).

enter image description here

On the other hand, having asked my own children what colours they would use, they did say green yellow and red because that was what they were used to at school (they use traffic light style symbols at school). Neither of my kids suggested blue, but when prompted, thought blue would mean hard. Neither were put off by the colour red meaning a warning - for example thinking it should be avoided.

Then my younger boy said he would use food rather than shapes - so here's what my limited research at home suggests. I chose fruit, despite my boy suggesting cucumber for easy, bread for medium, and ketchup for hard!!

enter image description here

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+1 for consumer research ;P –  Yamikuronue Sep 10 '12 at 20:38
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I find the last picture confusing. Of the three fruits, Apples are the hardest, and strawberries (generally) the softest. Maybe use a green grape and red apple? –  aslum Mar 11 '13 at 14:00
    
yes - the fruits could definitely be chosen more appropriately for their meaning, shape, colour and even geographical location!! –  Roger Attrill Mar 11 '13 at 16:04

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