Sponsored By

The Evolution of Video Games HCI is a blog looking at the progression over a period of time and how it has enhanced gameplay.

Emmet OhEinigh, Blogger

April 27, 2015

6 Min Read

The Evolution of Video Games HCI


Unit: Computer Game Studies

Title: Industry Press Article

Student: Emmet OhEinigh DGH1

Teacher: Shane Whelan



We all remember video games with either no Human-Computer Interface or simplistic Human-Computer Interface in the past; it is quite amazing how much it has evolved over the years from 1958 to the present day making life as a gamer enjoyable. 

There were a number of early 2D video games that were based on a player’s reflexes and/or control skills that were enhanced as the player progressed through the game.  In general the player’s enemies were either an A.I or another human with the objective of the game been to remain alive using their skill levels to defeat the enemy.

 Tennis for two created in 1958 had no Human-Computer Interface it merely determined the winner when the opponent missed the ball.

In 1961 Space War was developed, the gameplay was more complex than Tennis for two as it had the ability for the player to activate ‘Hyperspace’ placing their ship randomly on the screen, it was a reflex training game with no HCI.

The video game Pong came on the scene in 1972 and had a small Human-Computer Interface that showed the player’s scores above the screen.  Developers of this game had realized that player’s had an incentive to play the game due to the competitiveness of seeing their scores on screen. [1]

Along came Space Invaders, one of the most popular and earliest video games released by Taito in 1978.  It was so popular that in Japan it caused a coin shortage until the country’s currency the yen was quadrupled. [2] Space Invaders was a major hit with the public and yet it was such a simple video game.  The HCI consisted of the player’s lives and the amount of credit the player had left to play with. This information showed up at the bottom of the screen and it did its job well as it kept the player informed. 

Although Pac-Man was a reflex game it also had a puzzle solving side to it which was new to players.  The interface showed the player’s lives, score, high score and the famous cherry bomb.  It also had power pellets which allowed the ghosts to turn blue giving the player the opportunity to turn the tables for a short period. [1] The character idea for Pac-Man was created by Toru Iwatami; he based the look of Pac-Man on a pizza he was eating at the time. [3]


Platforms for video games changed and gamers could afford to own a device which allowed them to play video games from their own homes.  [4]  During the 1990’s gamers seen a dramatic change in Human-Computer Interface, numerous games were developed that gave the player options to interact and immerse themselves in gameplay and improved HCI was the reason behind this, playing on platforms such as the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) and the PlayStation 1.

In 1990 the SNES was released along with Super Mario World.  Super Mario was a linear platform game with improved graphics and improved HCI.  The Player was fed more information with regard to their interaction with the game, constantly kept updated with their progress through the HCI at the top of the screen.  The Player could keep track of Mario’s lives, bonus score, Time limit and the coins collected.  The Player was prompted information by way of a text box instruction at the start of the games intro, a massive improvement on the early 1980’s.  So popular was this game that it sold 20.6 million units. [5]

The arrival of The Sims in 2000 was originally developed for the PC but later it shared the same name on a number of consoles.  The Sims Human-computer Interface was expansive with numerous options for the players to choose from on the menu screen.   The first screen the Player encountered allowed the player to choose an option of creating a family or using a previous made family, the second option next to the first is to demolish a lot to build a new house from scratch.  On choosing the icons from the main menu the Player is brought further into the game and the Player then goes about developing their own gameplay style.  In each section of the game the HCI is consistently visible to the Player along with the tutorial text box prompts.  The Sims PC game was the bestselling game of 2000 to 2003, in its life-to-date The Sims franchise has sold more than 58 million games. [6]       

On November 23 2004 World of Warcraft an MMORPG was released by Blizzard Entertainment.  World of Warcraft is played on two platforms which are the PC and Mac.  The HCI of World of Warcraft seemed more advanced than any other HCI before.  On the interface there are many buttons and options, clicking on a User Interface item will bring the Player into a new screen were the Player can view the quest log, change graphics settings or even bring up the Players own character panel.  The main screen is the first thing the Player sees when entering the actual world of Warcraft.  The main screen consists of the following User Interface items: Character Portrait, Player Name, Target Portrait/Tool Tip, Status Icon, Zone Name, Day/Night Clock, Mini Map, Backpack and Bag slots, Latency Bar, Interface Panel, Action Bar, Chat Menu and the Chat Log.  The extensive Human-Computer Interface in World of Warcraft did not end in 2004 in fact it became bigger and better as Players could get add-ons to enhance either their gameplay or mostly enhance their own UI to the way they want.  Even to this very day Blizzard Entertainment are continuing to improve the Player’s UI even if it means removing some features that the Player never pay’s attention to for example the Day/Night clock which did not have much purpose for the Player was removed and replaced with a calendar which Players now use every time they log into World of Warcraft.  In 2014 World of Warcraft had 10 million subscribers worldwide and within 24 hours of release of Wrath of the Lich King and Warlords of Draenor expansions to the game they had sold 3.3 million each. [7]  

HCI has come a long way since its conception because of its continued development Players are much more involved in their gameplay interface and immersed in their own gaming world; it is certainly a far cry from where it all began.














[1] http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/video-games-HCI-evolution/

[2] http://www.classicgaming.cc/classics/spaceinvaders/history.php

[3] http://history1900s.about.com/od/1980s/qt/Pac-Man.htm

[4] http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2008/12/video-game-design-between-         1990-2008/

[5] http://www.metacritic.com/feature/super-mario-series-from-best-to-worst

[6] https://hci.stanford.edu/courses/cs547/abstracts/08-09/wright-long-bio.pdf

[7] http://www.statista.com/statistics/370010/world-of-warcraft-expansion-pack-sales/

Read more about:

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like