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Video Game Interface Elements

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"That's it. Game Over man, Game Over!"
Corporal Hudson, Aliens

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.
  • Armor Meter
    Graphical display of how much armor the player has, if any.
  • Armor Points
    Numerical display of how much armor the player has, if any.
  • Attract Mode
    Animation that plays when no one is actively playing the game.
  • Border-Occupying Decorations
    Purely decorative things meant to occupy the game's border due to the gameplay screen not being enough to cover it fully.
  • Boss Button
    Deceives superiors and coworkers as to what the player is really doing on company time.
  • 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 Model Karma Meter
    Your character's appearance is determined by whether they've been good or evil.
  • 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.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar
    A radar-like display that shows the locations of nearby units.
  • Evolving Title Screen
    A video game title screen that changes to reflect the player's in-game actions and achievements.
  • Expressive Health Bar
    The game provides a visual indication of the player's stamina.
  • Factor Breakdown
    An easy way to check the various factors that affect a final result for something like a stat or resource.
  • 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
    A device which projects supplemental information onto the surface reflection of a transparent panel.
  • Idiosyncratic Menu Labels
    A common video game interface function that is given a different name in an attempt at immersion.
  • 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.
    • Intoxication Mechanic
      The player character consuming drugs or alcohol hinders the player's ability to play the game.
  • Interface Spoiler
    When the way an in-game menu is constructed gives away details about the rest of the game.
  • Keywords Conversation
    A dialogue mode where the player inputs keywords to elicit a response from the NPC.
  • Level-Map Display
    Overlay that says "You are here". May also double as Enemy-Detecting Radar.
  • Light Gun Game
    A video game that uses a controller shaped like a gun.
  • Lore Codex
    Information relating to the world or characters, locations, and creatures inside the world, is all gathered in one location for players to review.
  • Model Museum
    A menu or room dedicated to freely viewing models from the game.
  • 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.
  • Overhead Interaction Indicator
    Characters who give quests and/or information will have something over their heads signalling that you need to talk to them.
  • 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.
  • Randomized Title Screen
    A video game title screen that changes due to the Random Number God.
  • 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.
  • Spinventory
    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.
  • Static Screw
    A game's video or audio turns completely or partly into static.
  • Stat-O-Vision
    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.
  • Summon a Ride
    A command that instantly conjures means of fast transportation (a mount, a vehicle, etc.) anywhere in the game world.
  • 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.
  • Themed Cursor
    Your cursor is based from some in-game element.
  • Visibility Meter
    Part of the HUD showing how visible you are to the enemies (usually in stealth-based games or levels).
  • 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.