Video Game Interface Elements
"It's like "Game Over" man, Game Over!"
Unlike noninteractive media, video games often require that incidental information be immediately available. Video games use a variety of mechanisms to present this information. Likewise, they have many kinds of commands, and different ways of accepting them. See also Interface Screw
and Interface Spoiler
for some metafictional uses of the interface.
These elements include:
- Action Bar
A UI element consisting of a box or strip of icons (or menu items) corresponding to actions which can be performed.
- Attract Mode
Animation that plays when no one is actively playing the game.
- Boss Subtitles
Where the boss is introduced with a big show of its name and a title or descriptive line.
- Boss Warning Siren
A boss is introduced with a warning siren.
- Break Meter
A usually graphical display that shows how close a character or enemy is to being "broken", a state where they will be more vulnerable to attacks.
- Character Name Limits
The player's name can be only so many letters long.
- Color-Coded Elements
Every magical effect has a color associated with it, allowing the player to tell at a glance which element a given ability is.
- Diegetic Interface
When the game interface exists in-universe, rather than being strictly for the player's benefit.
- Dramatic Disappearing Display
During a climactic Boss Battle or event, the game's display (showing Score, the Life Meter and such) vanishes, leaving a completely unobstructed view of the game area.
- Emote Command
A command in a multi-user game that depicts an emotion or personal action.
- General Gaming Gamepads
The usual types of controllers used with video game systems over the years.
- Holler Button
Pressing a button to call NPCs over.
- Hot Bar
A row of user-configurable buttons, usually located near the bottom or top of the screen.
- Heads Up Display
Heads-Up Display: A device which projects supplemental information onto the surface reflection of a transparent panel.
- Idle Animation
The animation that is displayed when a character, especially a player-controlled character, is just standing around.
- Interface Screw
When the game unexpectedly changes the interface to mess with the player.
- Interface Spoiler
When the way an in-game menu is constructed gives away details about the rest of the game.
- Level Map Display
Overlay that says "You are here". May also double as Enemy Radar.
- Light Gun
A video game controller shaped like a gun.
- Main Window
The place where the action of the game takes place.
- My Name Is ???
When the name of something - be it a character, object or menu item - is unknown, it will often be represented by a string of question marks.
- Ominous Save Prompt
An unusual-looking save prompt which comes just before something really nasty goes down.
- The Pennyfarthing Effect
What happens when an early version of a mechanic or interface is more complicated than a more recent one.
- Pet Interface
An interface in which you are given a sidekick, usually a pet, that acts as a guide/virtual pet of sorts in the world.
- Playable Menu
Fully interactivized main menu sequence.
- Point And Click Map
A game world map containing active areas, clicking on which instantly transports the character to the corresponding level.
- Ring Menu
An interface element where a list of possible actions are displayed in a ring or circle, often around a character.
- Score Screen
A screen that comes up after a level is beaten, tallying stuff like collectibles and your rating.
- Scrolling Text
When characters talk, it doesn't just appear instantly, it goes letter by letter.
- Shows Damage
Where the character or enemy graphically is shown with damaged clothing or body parts.
- Slash Command
A text command, beginning with a "/", usually found in MMORPGs.
The inventory screen uses the actual in-game 3D model of the item, and lets you see it by spinning it around.
- Squad Controls
The player is given limited control over their NPC allies through a handful of predefined commands.
- Start Screen
A static screen, or else an Attract Mode, which usually contains the title and a pulsating "PRESS START" prompt.
- Stat Meters
Graphical depictions of a statistical quantity, most often the player-character's current status.
- Life Meter
A meter, usually a coloured bar, that displays the Hit Points of a character.
- Multiple Life Bars
It's more complex than a single pile of Hit Points.
- Critical Annoyance
A warning sound that plays over and over again when you are low on health or some other bad thing is imminent.
- Mana Meter
A meter that describes the amount of power a character has remaining for his special abilities.
- Charge Meter
An indicator of how long you've held down a particular button in order to build up to the capability to perform a special, powerful action.
- Sprint Meter
A graphical depiction of some aspect of a character's condition other than his remaining health, e.g. his ability to run at high speed.
- Experience Meter
A meter that shows the current experience of a character, usually showing progress between two levels.
- Karma Meter
A meter that indicates how "good" or "bad" you are acting at that point. May be invisible.
- Evil Is Petty
The tendency of "evil" meaning just being really mean to people.
- Wanted Meter
A meter that represents how much of the local authority's ire you've drawn.
A display that shows all sorts of information about the target or enemy being scanned.
- Status Line
A display element showing the current disposition of the player, e.g. score, health, ammo etc.
- Stock Control Settings
The common standards in button layout.
- Symbol Drawing Interface
You have to draw symbols on the screen to perform certain actions.
- Taunt Button
A button that activates an Emote Animation of a character taunting others.
- Text Parser
A form of input that takes commands from the player and simplifies this to commands that the game engine can understand.
- Hello, Insert Name Here
Games let you name your characters. Renaming your hero to "POOP" can result in hours of fun.
- Themed Cursor
Your cursor is based from some in-game element.
- Vanity Window
Part of the screen filled with a logo or other static image, leaving the Main Window to be smaller, to save on processing power.
- Visual Initiative Queue
A turn based game shows the next several turns of all involved in a battle or event.
- Zip Mode
A shortcut so that you don't have to watch your character walk all the way across the screen.