Idea #395: Designing the Digital World: Game Experience and User Interface

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Seibundo Shinkosha
Idea + Publications

Designing the Digital World: Game Experience and User Interface

Direction/Edited by: IDEA
Supervision by Youichiro Miyake
Design by LABORATORIES (Kensaku Kato, Megumi Moriya)

The gateway we players experience the digital game world through is the game screen. This feature is an experimental visual review of the history of UI design in digital games, with game selection and editorial supervision by game developer and AI researcher Youichirou Miyake. 

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In the 1970s, computers reached a stage where we could make games for them. To get where they are today, digital games have evolved through a lot of hardware: arcade machines, PCs, video game consoles, hand-held consoles, and our smartphones. The industry has grown to become massive, and the trial and error of countless developers and creators have helped gamers find their way through the complex aggregate game information we know as stories, characters, and sounds. Games have developed beyond the boundaries of mere entertainment into a form of media that has captured hearts across the globe.

The changes have made the way information is shown more friendly. Pixels became 2D art, then 3D graphics; we’ve moved beyond creating pictures within the game screen to the creation of variations within sub-windows. If we look at the changes in the designs of these game screens, I’ll bet we can find overlap in ways of thinking in organizing information in graphic design, or in the user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) methods found in application design.

In recent years, we’ve seen the appearance of games using location-based information from the real world and augmented reality (AR), creating spaces that bridge the boundaries of the real world with the game. The future potential has drawn interest beyond the gaming industry. We have much to expect in the future of games; I hope you’ll enjoy the world of games and the abundance of successive game types it offers in the pages of this issue.

Introduction: History (1970s~) and structure in digital games
Text by Youichiro Miyake

Youichiro Miyake
Game AI developer. Lead AI Researcher in SQUARE ENIX. Specially Appointed Professor, Graduate School of Artificial Intelligence and Science, Rikkyo University. After studying mathematics at Kyoto University, Osaka University (M.S. Physics), and the University of Tokyo (Ph.D. Engineering), he has been engaged in the development and research of artificial intelligence in digital games Since 2004. He is the author of “When Artificial Intelligence Becomes ‘Life’” (PLANETS, 2020) and many other books.

Chapter 1│Multi-window and multi-menu games

Dungeons & Dragons
Detroit: Become Human
Tokyo Xanadu
Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

[Interview] Nihon Falcom Corporation
“Tactile” games through heterogeneous collaboration: Nihon Falcom’s 40-year-old UI design method

Nihon Falcom Corporation:

[Column] UI screen design for real-time and turn-based games
Text by Youichiro Miyake

Chapter 2│Switching from 2D to 3D: Use of the mini-map

Super Mario World / Super Mario 64
Etrian Odyssey

[Column] Map design in games
Text by Youichiro Miyake

Chapter 3│Evolution after 3D: The rise of open world and smartphone games

Grand Theft Auto III
Ghost of Tsushima
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Fate/Grand Order
Toro and Friends: Onsen Town
Uma Musume Pretty Derby

[Interview] BeXide
Designing for Playfulness: UI design surpasses hardware limitations


[Column] Maps with artificial intelligence
Text by Youichiro Miyake

Chapter 4│Reality-based Games: Integrating real streets with the digital world

Pokémon Go

[Interview] Niantic
Bridging the game world with real world: Niantic’s UI design harnesses the power of location


[Column] UI screen design for arcade games
Text by Youichiro Miyake

Series │ MIRRORS
Vol. 2 Millennials Part 2

Text by Tetsuya Goto
Design by Sulki & Min
Translation by Tetsuya Goto
English proofread by Duncan Brotherton

Why is Mizumaru-san “so” popular?

Text: Shinbo Minami
Cooperation: Setagaya Literary Museum, Crevis
Design: Kazuhiro Yamada (nipponia)
illustrated by Mizumaru Anzai © Masumi Kishida

The World of Decorative Fonts that
Build CultureMaking Typefaces for Raku Font vol. 4

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