Semiotics

30 06 2008

I never really thought about icons in games until recently (due to my online class). There are soooo many signs and symbols in games that we just seem to “automatically” know what they mean. My professor brought up the Sims and how its so easy to understand what’s going on even for a new-comer to the series. I think anyone (and you!) know how your Sims is feeling or what they are thinking about. I know so many times I’d be playing the Sims and I’d see my sim sleeping in his/her bed and say “Aw! Look! She’s dreaming about Todd!” How do I know this? While she is doing the action of sleeping, a little picture of the character Todd (I just made him up. I don’t think I’ve ever named a Sim Todd….hmmmm….I gotta get on that) within a little “thinking bubble”. When my sim is talking to other sims, I totally know what they are talking about. A dollar sign over their heads lets me know they are talking about money. That whole game is almost played more through the symbols and signs than through the actual graphics of these Sims. Its really quite a fascinating idea.

In a game like Civilizations 4, you can see the icons in the top right corner of the screen and make some pretty good assumptions as to their purpose. If you see an icon that looks like a bank or maybe a money bag, you know that has something to do with your finances. The little flags that represent the different countries lets you know who’s on your land.

My professor points how universal these icons are. The Mario icons are so well known. Almost anyone who sees that mushroom image knows what it is. The same with the orange fireball flower and the star! Can any of you think of any other games that have icons in them that are almost so universal ANY one could understand it?

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