While there has been a negative stigma around the video game industry since its inception, there have been plenty of proponents of the medium who have argued for its artistic value as well. Instead of regurgitating their arguments, I've decided to analyze some specific UX/UI design patterns in games that I think are a great representation of innovation and artistic expression in the industry.
"May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out. " - Monoman The Teacher
If I could only pick one title to demonstrate why video games are an immersive art form, it would be Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Everything is absolutely beautiful in this game. The environment art and sound design are gorgeous and immersive, the game design is challenging but rewarding, and the UX/UI patterns utilized are very intuitive and fit seamlessly with the overall aesthetic.
One popular UX/UI design pattern that Moon Studios effectively employed in this game is a Radial Menu (see below), also commonly referred to as a Weapons Wheel. As the main character, Ori, improves throughout the game various abilities are unlocked and became available for Ori to utilize. The radial menu allows the user to quickly pull up all of these abilities, and navigate to them to learn more about them with the left stick. The illustrative icons are not only on-brand with the bright, spiritual aesthetic of the game, but also act as visual description of each ability to remind the player of the abilities traits.
An added perk of this particular radial menu is that the player can easily assign the ability to a specific button of their choosing (X, Y, or B in this case). This gives the user added freedom, as they can craft a plethora of ability combinations in a way that feels the most intuitive to them as they navigate the various challenges the game presents.
"No, failure is not the end. It is a necessary part of the path." - Jaro Tapal
For a lot of Star Wars fans, the storyline, character development, and cinematography in Jedi: Fallen Order is superior to some of the more recent films. Disney even game Electronic Arts the license to make the game canonical, which essentially means that the events in the game are officially part of the Star Wars narrative and may be converted to other media forms like TV or film.
The "Skill Tree" has been a popular UX/UI design pattern in video games for a while now, which allows a player to select from a collection of abilities as they level up to enhance their character based on their gameplay preferences. Typically, there are parent categories that these abilities fall into, and by adding more skills in a particular category it will strengthen their character to suit their play style.
In Fallen Order, I really liked the simplicity of the skill tree design (see below), and the ability to preview each skill in action before committing to it. The parent categories were clearly labeled, and it was extremely clear which abilities were prerequisites for more advanced skills as they were tied together by a series of connecting lines, like a series of branches in a tree. Overall, it was a very minimalist approach and aesthetic, which made selecting the next upgrade rather straightforward. This ensured that the player could get back to the task at hand quickly. Slicing up Stormtroopers!
"One thing I've learned, if you don't draw first, you don't get to draw at all." - Booker DeWitt
The BioShock collection is a dark, dystopian, retrofuturistic video game series created by Ken Levine that is as stunning as it is horrifying. The character arcs and plot twists in this series are so memorable that I have little doubt that it would be a very successful Netflix series, should it ever be produced.
One of my favorite things about the series is how immersive every interaction is within the game environment. In BioShock infinite, there is a serious steampunk vibe that is employed which makes the player feel as if they are in a futuristic floating American city in the year 1912. Within the city, called "Columbia", there are vending machines that the player can access to purchase "vigors", wondrous tonics that grant extraordinary abilities after consumption. In the UX/UI example below, the user can preview what each of these vigors will do for them prior to purchase, with an early 1900's inspired commercial video.
Similar to the commercials, the icons for each vigor are a bit playful and comical, which downplays the chaos and destruction that each ability is capable of.
Similar to app and web design, game design patterns have emerged over time to allow users to solve complex problems with familiar solutions. By tailoring these design patterns and their UI aesthetic to the game experience, UX/UI designers allow the player to truly immerse themselves in the game environment. True immersion is what makes video games an artistic experience, and so the little details truly make a huge difference.