The Types of Game User Interfaces

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Zones of a Game

There are two major zones to a game: the story and the space, what is happening and where it is happening. UI can exist inside and outside of these parts.

Non-Diegetic (not in the story or space)

It is on a different layer than the game world and the character is not aware of this element. 

For example, the numbers at the top are Non-Diegetic. Mario doesn’t see them, and they don’t exist in the world.

Diegetic (in the story and space)

This is something that is in the world and the character sees. For Mario, it’s when he shrinks if a player hits him or changes when he picks something up.

Spatial (not in the story but in the space)

When Mario jumps on an enemy or hits a block, points appear. They show up in the play space but Mario can’t see them.

Meta (in the story but not in the space)

This is when things related to the story show but the characters can’t see them, like text boxes.

When you feel you understand these types, take the quiz below!