Perception of Color in Computer Games: A Quick Guide for Game Developers

Color is a powerful tool for game developers. It can be used to influence how the user perceives the game, what actions he performs in it, what scenarios he chooses. There are generally accepted color associations, but some correlations are not so obvious at all. Here’s how to use color matching for characters, locations and game objects to influence the perception of the game and how modern technology helps with color.

How Color Works in Games

Color perception differs from person to person depending on culture, social norms and life experience, but there are some common evolutionary patterns that have been formed historically. For example, bright and light colors, like those that are used in the 20Bet website design, are associated with sunlight, activity, and movement, while dark and muted colors are associated with night, tranquility, and enclosed spaces. In general, players experience stronger emotions when passing levels in colored locations, and in history, there were cases where the colors even became the object of legal regulation. For example, in the 80s in Germany, game developers had to change characters’ blood from red to green in order not to violate youth protection laws.

Technological advances have also affected the way color works in games. For example, modern screens are able to display millions of colors, which means that the developers, on the one hand, have more opportunities, on the other – have to be much more thoughtful about the selection of colors. This can be seen, among other things, in the solutions offered to developers by equipment manufacturers. Specialized computers are appearing which are focused on solving resource-intensive development tasks and working with color at the same time.

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Let’s understand what functions color performs in computer games:

  • Creates a mood. For example, red gives a feeling of tension, aggression and threat, yellow – energy and something magical, green – balance and calm, blue – security, purple – dignity, mystery, pink – femininity and something nice, etc. Studies confirm this theory. For example, during experiments it was found that in blue or green locations players more often die and spend more time on the level than in similar locations of red color – obviously in the latter users are more collected and concentrated.
  • Causes different associations. For example, bright colors are more often associated with something childish, and muted colors – on the contrary, with older people. Cold shades are perceived by the human eye as more distant, and warm shades are associated with something that is close. Red gives the impression of something hot or loud, and blue – cool and quiet. Objects colored in light hues are perceived as lighter than those in dark hues, etc.
  • Gives clues in the game. Indicates the direction of movement, tells about certain properties of objects, helps to pass through quests and draws attention to some important things – in a word, creates a visual hierarchy of the game scene.
  • Separates teams and simply opponents. The color coding “friend-or-foe” must be read at a glance, so maximum contrasting colors are used: red and blue, red and green.

How to Choose Colors for Game Characters and Locations

Color has three important characteristics to consider when creating games:

  • Hue – for example, red, green or blue.
  • Saturation – the greater the saturation, the cleaner and more concentrated the color.
  • Lightness – the degree of brightness of the color.
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By combining colors with different characteristics, you can create a different mood and feeling of the game scene.

Color matching in games is a fairly complex and multi-step process that involves, among other things, working through and evaluating different color combinations. Such testing can be done in different ways – for example, collecting palettes and drawing sketches by hand. But it’s more convenient to immediately apply color schemes to game scenes, characters, objects – modern professional equipment allows you to do this. We’re talking primarily about the RTX ray tracing technology in NVIDIA video cards – computers with such cards, in fact, allow you to render scenes with cinematic quality in real time.


Jean Nicholas

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