HUD Interfaces

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Information and access to game actions that are presented in computer games as if they were on a plane in front of the presentation of the game world.

Computer games that have game worlds present these to players through user interfaces. However, often additional information is presented to players as on a plane right before the actual presentation of the game world. Such presentations of information and access to gameplay actions are called HUD Interfaces.

Note: this pattern describes a more generic design solution that a true HUD interface. It is more aligned to the Overlay part in Fagerholt & Lorentzon's conceptual view of visual UI conventions in FPS games[1].


True HUD Interfaces are used in games with first person views, e.g. the Battlefield, Doom, Half-Life, and Left 4 Dead series. However, the idea of overlaying information in a plane in front of a game world presentation exists also in computer-based Strategy Games such as Civilization and Europa Universalis series. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series shows how game series that first used third-person views and later first-person views can continuously make use of HUD Interfaces.

Using the pattern

While many different types of information can be presented in HUD Interfaces, e.g. Chat Channels, Clues, Equipment Slots, Health, Lives, and Neighbors, the creation of Crosshairs in a game instantiates a (at least minimal) HUD Interface by its very nature, and affects Aim & Shoot actions directly. While HUD Interfaces can serve as reminders of Clues accessible in other places, HUD Interfaces can also be the only source for them and can thereby both modulate and instantiate them. HUD Interfaces can also be used to simple actions, e.g. Naming.

Controllers can optionally be used to change what is shown in HUD Interfaces if these are used in a game.

While Screen Splatter can be seen as its own plane which information is presented on, it is equally possible to view it as a way of modifying what is presented on HUD Interfaces.

Diegetic Aspects

HUD Interfaces can maintain Diegetic Consistency if the game uses First-Person Views and Avatars and it makes sense for players' Avatars to have these. This of course also requires that no Non-Diegetic Features are represented through the interfaces though.

Interface Aspects

HUD Interfaces is an Interface Pattern. While HUD Interfaces make most diegetic sense in games with First-Person Views, the use of the term here to signify any information in an overlay to the diegetic presentation of Game Worlds means that it can equally well be used in games with Third-Person Views or God Views (as the examples from the Civilization, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout series show).


The use of HUD Interfaces provides a clear way of presenting Game State Indicators and Game State Overviews in games. When they don't break Diegetic Consistency they can also ensure Thematic Consistency. The presences of very minimalistic HUD Interfaces, for example those only showing Handles or Health, can be enough to make players aware that they are playing Characters in a game.

As stated above, while HUD Interfaces can be diegetic in their presentation, they often introduce Non-Diegetic Features (e.g. Attributes) and thereby work against Diegetic Consistency.


Can Instantiate

Chat Channels, Clues, Game State Indicators, Game State Overviews Non-Diegetic Features, Thematic Consistency

with Handles or Health


Can Modulate

Aim & Shoot, Clues, Equipment Slots, First-Person Views, Health, Lives, Naming, Neighbors

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Controllers, Screen Splatter

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Fagerholt, E. & Lorentzon, M. 2009. Beyond the HUD - User Interfaces for Increased Player Immersion in FPS Games. MSc thesis in Interaction Design. Chalmers University of Technology.