Say if I wanted to create a new platform in a game like the mobile game doodle jump. The differences in the different platforms are actually subtle changes in different parts of the feedback loop. If I broke the feedback loop down to four stages( observe, predict( formulate action ), act, get feedback ) I could explain one of the platforms as so:

Platform that moves side to side causes you to observe more than say the platform that just sits there and also makes you have to predict where the platform is going to be. Also, performing the action is more challenging as well because the platform is moving.

Having noticed this if one wanted to create a new platform they might think about platforms that challenge one of the first 3 stages of the loop( observe, predict, act ). You could make the player take more observations into account before formulating an action. You could shorten the time the player has to observe, predict, act. You could let the player observe as long as needed but challenge the action through time or more accuracy.

I kind of made the two connections when reading "The Design of Everyday Things". There's a page or two in the end on using his ideas in game design, but he doesn't necessarily say which parts can be applicable.

Am I on the right track in thinking this way?

  • 1
    I'm not really sure there is an actual question here for us to answer, it's more just a discussion on HCI in game design with a request for us to comment on your thoughts. Is there something specific about this you are looking for an answer to?
    – JonW
    Jul 29, 2012 at 22:13
  • I guess my question is, "Is HCI applicable to game design in the way I'm trying to apply it?". Changed title to reflect this.
    – Joey Green
    Jul 30, 2012 at 2:39
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    Short answer: If your game if for humans, then HCI applies. But I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for here. Maybe ask a question with a single (more generic) problem that you're facing not the whole project.
    – JohnGB
    Jul 30, 2012 at 8:02
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    I don't understand the question: I think it needs explaining better.
    – PhillipW
    Jul 30, 2012 at 11:42
  • I have to agree with the others; it seems so obvious that HCI can apply to games (a human is interacting with a computer). Are you trying to ask specifically what's different about "normal" usability and gaming usability? Some aspects of games need to be difficult/less discoverable so the principles don't always translate 100%
    – Ben Brocka
    Aug 4, 2012 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


UX concepts do apply to videogame design, but this is possibly less about micro-interaction analysis and more about larger design direction.

Some principles from HCI and UX that work well in videogames include:


Notice how all platformers use the same visual clues for elements that can be interacted with in the same way? Seen how creatures with similar visual styling tend to act and react in consistent ways? That's a great example of the consistency principle at work.


Just as buttons in a webapp darken on hover to show their clickability, good games make environments respond to and encourage the right user behaviours. Think how destructable items start to crack or darken before they get destroyed (else you'd wonder if you were just firing at scenery). Or the way enemies flinch on being hit, so you know you didn't miss. Even the way temporary platforms start to wobble when you step on them to hint their instability is a great example of responsiveness.


It's not just checkouts that need to show users how many steps are required to complete the purchase. Videogames benefit from giving users a sense of their progression too. That could be letting users see their previous environments below them (so they sense they've moved on). It could be increasing the frequency that the user sees the end goal or prize. It could even be in sound or music (think how Portal 2 starts amplifying musical crescendos as the user moves higher and faster). These are great cases of direction.

I'm sure you'll think of more as you continue reading, but that's the way I'd apply UX concepts to videogame design. Good luck!


Of course HCI applies, and you should always have your mind on User Centered Design (UCD). A game application is no different from any other application when it comes to User Experience. However, and this is important, you should never implement strict usability conventions if they interfere with your gaming experience. The most simple (and I admit, a silly one too) example: If your game is to find hidden things, then you shouldn’t show the just because usability conventions say you have to.

That’s the real deal here. You need to define your gaming experience requirements list first, and then challenge that list on the user experience design you undertake. If you find a conflict between gaming and user experience – ask for advice from colleagues or project team (or here for that matter). Always be prepared to change the gaming experience list, as well as user experience requirements.

Hope this gives you an idea or two.

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    Then again, even in the case you provide, hidden things should still be hinted at somehow - not just arbitrarily placed. So we can actually say this is a good example of the principle of information scenting. But certainly, you always want to keep the different software purposes and user goals in mind. Aug 4, 2012 at 19:11

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