Beyond the HUD – User Interfaces for Increased Player Immersion in FPS Games
2010-02-24 by Erik Fagerholt and Magnus Lorentzo
Master thesis from Chalmers University of Technology done at DICE in 2009.
The concept of immersion has been adapted by game developers and game critics to describe a deep and positive game experience. While the definition of this concept varies, the user interface of the game is often said to affect the degree to which players can immerse themselves in a game experience. In cooperation with game developer DICE, this master thesis aims to investigate how the notion of immersion affects, and is affected by, the user interface UI of first-person shooter games, with the ultimate purpose of delivering user interface guidelines for increased immersion. By conducting a study of contemporary first-person shooter FPS games, the current state of user interfaces in FPS games is documented. With the addition of a subjective study of FPS games as well as games of other genres, a design space for UI designers is mapped out in order to provide a structure upon which the guidelines can be built. A literature study of various resources within the fields of ludology, cognitive science and media studies is conducted in order to gain increased understanding of what immersion is and its relation to the game experience. The knowledge acquired is used to formulate various hypotheses of how player immersion is connected to the user interfaces of FPS games. These hypotheses are evaluated by user studies and user tests. Looking at the results of the user tests and the literature study, a final definition of immersion is proposed, upon which the guidelines are based. The first guideline, Know Your Design Space, explains the user interface design space of FPS games and encourages UI designers to look at it as a set of tools. Know Your Game discusses how the competitive focus of the game and the game fiction affects the user interface from an immersion point of view. The guideline Establish Player Agency focuses on how the player can be transferred into the game world by acting within it as an agent rather than simply a player of the game. Finally, Strengthen the Player-Avatar Perceptual Link suggests how the user interface can link the player closer to his in-game character on a perceptual level.
Also available in at the Chalmers Publication Library