The Quest to Enhance Design in Video Games

Viktoriya Kozyreva discussed the challenges that UI/UX designers face in creating games, detailed solutions that designers are using to overcome these challenges, and spoke about the importance of cross-device consistency and cultural adaptation.

The design of video games has come a long way over the years, with developers continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of graphics, gameplay, and player engagement. However, with these advancements come new and interesting problems that UI/UX designers must navigate in order to create games that are accessible, usable, and enjoyable for players of all abilities.

In this article, we will explore some of the most interesting problems in the field of game design, and examine the innovative solutions that designers are using to overcome these challenges. From designing for accessibility to considering cultural differences and local regulations, we will take a deep dive into the complex and dynamic world of game design, and look at how designers are shaping the future of this exciting industry.

Cross-Device Consistency

With more and more players accessing games across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles, it's essential that the user experience remains consistent and seamless regardless of the device being used. Cross-device consistency helps keep the player engaged in the game, no matter what device they are using, and reinforces the sense of brand recognition. 

One example of a game that has successfully implemented cross-device consistency is Minecraft. To achieve this cross-device consistency, Minecraft uses a cloud-based storage system that syncs the player's progress and saved worlds across all devices. This system ensures that players can access their progress and saved worlds no matter where they are or what device they're using. Of course, a whole staff of developers is working on such a complex and non-trivial task, and UI/UX designers create interfaces that will look great on every device and remain recognizable and understandable to the players.

While not every designer is faced with the most ambitious tasks, all game interface designers face the daily challenge of accounting for a wide range of screen resolutions, from the latest iPhone to various tablet resolutions. Although it may seem like a small detail, accounting for different resolutions can make or break a game's user experience. Even the smallest design element can be affected by different resolutions, and failing to account for these differences can ruin the entire layout.

Therefore, designers must constantly check for compatibility across various resolutions, ensuring that the game is optimized for each device. While this may seem like a mundane task, it is crucial to creating a game that provides a seamless and enjoyable experience for all players.

Design for Accessibility

Ensuring that interfaces are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is a legal requirement in many countries, and is also an ethical responsibility for designers. However, designing interfaces that meet accessibility guidelines and standards can be a complex and challenging task.

For example, ensuring that interfaces are usable by users with visual impairments requires careful consideration of color contrast, font size and type, and the use of alternative text. I could observe one of the companies where I worked creating designs for people with different visual impairments, and this is quite unusual because we rarely think about such things in everyday life. It was interesting to look at the world with completely different eyes and to realize that it turns out that different people look at the world in different ways.

One of my students once asked if the left-handed design is taken into account in the design. This question seemed interesting to me, and I found that some major games do have this feature. For example, in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. 

And it's cool that some questions can lead you to good solutions that improve your design.

In some cases, UX designers might also need to design alternative interfaces that are specifically designed for users with disabilities, such as voice-controlled interfaces for users with mobility impairments.

Ultimately, designing for accessibility requires a collaborative and inclusive approach, with designers working closely with users who have disabilities to understand their needs and ensure that the design meets their requirements. By taking a user-centered approach and incorporating accessibility considerations into the design process, UX designers can create interfaces that are inclusive, usable, and accessible to all users.

Designing for Human Behavior

During my time as a promo artist for slot games, I discovered a simple but effective rule: make it bright, shiny, and irresistible. While this may sound like a basic principle, it also applies to advertising design; if you want to attract customers, you need to present an appealing package. This principle extends beyond slot games to many other games, where designers use eye-catching colors, stunning animations, and plentiful rewards to fuel players' desires.

In UI/UX design, being a successful designer also requires a level of psychological insight. Understanding what motivates players to continue playing, and what design elements will keep them engaged, is essential to creating a game that will be popular and successful.

The most effective games are those that appeal to players on a psychological level, by creating a sense of excitement and anticipation, or by tapping into players' desire for competition or social interaction. Ultimately, the key to creating a successful game is understanding what motivates players and leveraging this knowledge to create a compelling, engaging experience. 

Cultural Adaptation

Cultural adaptation for game UX involves designing games that are sensitive to the cultural norms, values, and expectations of different player groups. This can include considerations such as language, imagery, storytelling, and gameplay mechanics, as well as social and behavioral factors. In order to create games that are appealing and accessible to players from different cultural backgrounds, game developers must carefully research and analyze the target culture, and then incorporate appropriate design elements into the game.

During the development of a Match 3 game designed for Arabic and Eastern audiences, our team faced a unique challenge related to cultural adaptation. We realized that certain design elements and visuals that work well in the Western world may not be suitable for Eastern cultures. To address this, we carefully considered the use of oriental-style elements in our design, paying attention to specific cultural preferences and sensitivities. For instance, we replaced the common image of a piggy bank with that of a jug of coins, as the pig is not a culturally appropriate animal in the East. 

Major game studios, including Playrix, have dedicated teams that research and account for cultural nuances in different countries. The Chinese market, in particular, presents significant challenges due to its complex system of censorship. The number of different rules and exceptions related to censorship is large, and sometimes a separate version of the game or add-on is made specifically for the Chinese market.

For instance, in Chinese localization, attention is paid to even the smallest details such as the use of the letter "i," which is not allowed for the information button. All texts, without exception, must be translated to meet the specific cultural requirements of the target audience. The Chinese language has its own nuances, grammar, and symbols that should be taken into account when designing games for this market. Therefore, it is crucial to work with professional translators and cultural experts to ensure that the game's content is culturally adapted and relevant to the intended audience. 

In conclusion, the world of game UX design is constantly evolving and presents a myriad of challenges for designers to tackle. From cultural adaptation and localization to balancing aesthetic appeal with functionality, game interface designers must navigate a complex landscape to create engaging and enjoyable experiences for players around the globe. Despite the difficulties, designers continue to push the boundaries and find new solutions, ensuring that the world of gaming remains vibrant and exciting for years to come.

Viktoriya Kozyreva, Art Team Lead

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