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Additional information presented when players have focused on a game element.

Providing players with the right amount of information can be problematic in games, since giving either too much or too little can work against an optimal gameplay experience. Computer-based games have an opportunity regarding this that other game forms do not have; they can

This pattern is a still a stub.

Note: this pattern exists in many design pattern collections for interaction design. However, being related quite specifically to information it can affect gameplay more directly than other interaction design patterns.


The Civilization series provide Tooltips regarding the resource generator of terrain when players let mouse pointers hover over them.

Most of the game elements in the Hearts of Iron series show some Tooltips when focused upon.

World of Warcraft makes use of Tooltips as well, but allows players to choose from having beginner Tooltips or ordinary ones.

Using the pattern

Tooltips are a way of providing information to players in Computer Games by adding text overlays on things they focus upon, so they imply a use of Mediated Gameplay. Besides deciding what game elements should have Tooltips and what information should be provided, the main design choice in implementing the pattern is how long time one has to focus before the Tooltips are shown. What players are focused upon is usually a simple case of checking what their God Fingers or Crosshairs are pointing at.

While Tooltips in games typically provide information about the gameplay, they may also provide Extra-Game Information regarding the game interface or other ways of playing the game.

Interface Aspects

Tooltips is both an Information and Interface Pattern. However, the appropriate time before showing Tooltips can vary depending on the type of gameplay and a distinction can be made between presenting only Tooltips for game elements or for interface components such as menus and buttons.


Tooltips provide Clues to players and can help players handle Complex Gameplay. They modify how Crosshairs or God Fingers work by making them tools for getting more explicit information from games, even if this comes at the cost of introducing ephemeral Non-Diegetic Features and thereby potentially breaking Diegetic Consistency. By doing so they can let players have Smooth Learning Curves, as well as letting game designers have concrete ways to share their Strategic Knowledge to them. This Strategic Knowledge can in turn encourage players to engage in Strategic Planning.


Can Instantiate

Clues, Extra-Game Information, Non-Diegetic Features, Smooth Learning Curves

with Strategic Knowledge

Strategic Planning

Can Modulate

Complex Gameplay, Crosshairs, God Fingers, Strategic Knowledge

Can Be Instantiated By

Mediated Gameplay

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.