How to Use Signifiers To Indicate The Affordance of Game Objects (Acagamic Tip Tuesday #8)

the acagamic tip tuesday Apr 05, 2022
Screenshot from Tomb Raider

Welcome back to The Acagamic Tip Tuesday.

Each Tuesday, I will send you a tip from the world of UX Research & Design for games. At my website The Acagamic, I focus on training people to become better researchers and designers for games and beyond.

Each tip will only take a few minutes to read.

Game UX Tip of the week

Signifiers: Use signifiers to indicate the affordances of your game objects.

An affordance is a perceivable clue about what actions an object can afford. This will tell a user what actions they can do with that object. A signifier on the other hand is an additional layer of information that indicates affordances exist, such as a mark, sound, or label.

You should think about your player’s mental model when designing affordances and then suggest explicit actions by adding signifiers to your design.

The carts in Tomb Raider afford jumping off in a certain direction. The white paint signifies an area to walk on.
A rope wrapped around a log beam signifies that the rope can be used on it in Uncharted.
In Horizon: Zero Dawn, rock paintings signify Banuk figures close by.

Three Tweets

Two Links

Affordances in game systems design 

Affordances and signifiers. Creating designs, components, and interactions that make sense to users by H Locke 

Two Videos

Two Research Papers

Z O. Toups, Igor Dolgov, and Elizabeth M. Bonsignore. 2014. A theory of game mechanic signaling for interface design. In Proceedings of the first ACM SIGCHI annual symposium on Computer-human interaction in play (CHI PLAY ’14). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 445–446. DOI: 10.1145/2658537.2661318

Ronny Andrade, Melissa J. Rogerson, Jenny Waycott, Steven Baker, and Frank Vetere. 2020. Introducing the Gamer Information-Control Framework: Enabling Access to Digital Games for People with Visual Impairment. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–14. DOI: 10.1145/3313831.3376211

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