Introduction to UX in Game Design

UX wasn’t always there in the game development industry. In fact, its appearance can be traced back to the time when the importance of player feedback grew along with the growth of the industry. In the past, game studios focused primarily on making games that were fun for the development team.

However, this often led to games that were not particularly enjoyable for players.

In recent years, there has been a shift toward a more player-centric development process. This means that game developers are now focusing on making games that are fun for players, rather than just for themselves. One of the most important aspects of this new development process is the role of game UX designers.

The value of UX in game development is growing, but many teams are still ignoring it. It’s time to break the vicious circle and find out why you need a game UI designer.

What is UX?

UX translates to User Experience and is a branch of game design focused on the psychology of the final players, their behavior, and their thinking process. Through UX, game developers ensure that the vision they wanted to create will reach unchanged the minds of end-users. So, they need a deep knowledge of the players’ thinking processes and behavior.

It takes a lot of research to make players interact with the game, download or buy it, continue to play, or recommend it to friends or forums. This is the primary purpose of a video game. To reach it, game developers use many research methodologies and innovative techniques such as biometric technologies to understand the player’s emotions better.

In addition, the UX team invests time and effort in collecting data about player behavior through surveys, user testing, field studies, and analytics tools. All of these help them build personas of typical users which are used to target specific design decisions towards particular groups of players.

Through UX design, developers can improve player engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty by making changes to game mechanics, visuals, audio, narrative, or other elements. Consequently, User Experience has become an essential part of modern game development and one that all studios should invest in if they want to create successful games.

How are UX and UI related?

As the world of video games has become more complex, so too has the process of designing them. In the early days of game development, the focus was largely on creating engaging gameplay mechanics.

However, as games have become more sophisticated, developers have begun to focus more on creating immersive and user-friendly experiences. This shift has led to the emergence of two distinct disciplines: UX design and UI design.

UX design focuses on the player’s journey through the game, to make the experience as enjoyable and user-friendly as possible. UI design, on the other hand, focuses on the game’s surface-level elements such as menus, buttons, and icons.

While both disciplines are important in game development, UX design has become increasingly crucial in recent years as players have come to expect more from their gaming experiences.

One of the most important aspects of UX design is usability testing. This process involves observing players as they interact with the game to identify areas where the experience can be improved.

Usability testing is essential in ensuring that players have a positive experience with your game and is something that all game developers should take seriously.

Benefits from in-game UX

A good game feel is all about giving players a satisfying sense of control. When every action feels weighty and tactile, it helps to ground the player in the game world and makes the experience more immersive.

A good UX design for a game brings many benefits for the players and, as a result, for the developers:

• Comfortable first meeting. How intuitive the game will be will come down to UX design. The first minutes are usually a turning point and a person decides whether he likes the product or not.

• Deeper dive. One of the best ways to achieve this is through simple mechanics. By exploiting the properties of basic physics, designers can create all sorts of convincing feedback effects that add depth and immersion to the game world.

For example, in a racing game, simple mechanical effects like tire squeal and camera shake can make the experience much more intense and believable. In a soccer game, adding a wobble to the net after a goal is scored can help add a sense of triumph to the moment.

These small details may seem inconsequential, but they can have a big impact on the overall game feel. When designing with immersion in mind, every detail counts.

• A better understanding of your users. One of the main tasks of the UX design team is to research their players. This way you get more accurate information about users and there is a chance to better tailor the application to their needs and interests.

Cognitive affordance, visual language, or accessibility to go even further. All of these aspects make the overall experience of your game more intuitive and allow you to reach a wider audience when applied.

Why can’t developers make good UX designs themselves?

Many development teams continue to think that they don’t need someone to focus on UX. They believe that they can do everything themselves, but this is a delusion. There are several problems due to which the task is unattainable:

• Too close. When designing a game, it is important to keep in mind that the team developing the game will inevitably become too close to the project. This can lead to design flaws and errors that would not be present if the team had a more objective perspective.

• Level of knowledge “expert”. It is important to design games that are accessible to players of all skill levels. Novice and casual players should be able to understand the game mechanics without needing extensive tutorials. By designing games that are enjoyable for a wide range of players, you can avoid making a game that appeals to no one.

• The complexity of perception from a different point of view. You always focus on yourself, but your target audience may be completely different. If you need to attract kids, video game newbies, and casual gamers, you’ll need to study their needs. Otherwise, there is a risk that you are making a game for no one.

How to deal with these problems?

As game development becomes increasingly complex, the importance of having a dedicated player experience specialist on the team cannot be overstated. This individual needs to be able to maintain creative impartiality and objectivity, and to truly understand how different player audiences perceive, think, and learn.

They should also know means of engaging real players to gather specific, trustworthy feedback. Furthermore, they need to be able to assess a player’s experience with game mechanics both piece-by-piece and as a holistic whole.

Finally, they must be willing and able to take responsibility for the player-centric process right from the beginning of development. With such an individual on the team, the risks inherent in game development can be significantly mitigated.


In any given video game, there are a variety of mechanics at play to make the gameplay engaging and immersive. For example, in a racing game, the player might choose to upgrade their car to make it faster and more responsive. Or, in a first-person shooter, the player might opt for a gun with more recoil to add challenge to the game.

In each case, it is the simple mechanics of the game that are being exploited to amplify the depth of the gameplay. By designing with game feel in mind, developers can ensure that players are constantly provided with a wide range of satisfying feedback that contributes to an immersive experience.

Whether it’s through animations, visual/sound effects, camera behavior, or animated post-processes, incorporating these elements into the game design can make all the difference in terms of player engagement. Ultimately, it is through these simple mechanics that players can get lost in the gameplay and truly appreciate the game they are playing.

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