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Hum Factors. 2011 Apr;53(2):103-17.

Maximizing players' anticipation by applying the proximity-compatibility principle to the design of video games.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France.



Two experiments were conducted to investigate elements of the spatial design of video game interfaces.


In most video games, both the objects and the background scene are moving. Players must pay attention to what appears in the background to anticipate events while looking at head-up displays. According to the proximity-compatibility principle, game-related information should be placed as close as possible to the anticipation zone.


Participants played a video game where they had to anticipate the upward movement of obstacles. The score location was manipulated. The average vertical gaze position and dispersion were used to assess anticipation and extent of visual scanning, respectively.


Putting the score at the bottom rather than the top of the game window, within the anticipation zone, was expected to minimize attentional moves. Experiment I revealed lower average gaze positions and reduced extent of visual scanning in that condition, but the score performance did not improve significantly. Experiment 2 demonstrated that players' performance increased compared with the bottom condition when the score was displayed just below but outside the game window, despite an increased extent of visual scanning.


Positioning the score just outside the anticipation zone facilitated anticipation of the movement of obstacles and led to better performance than when the score overlapped with the game anticipation zone.


For games requiring visual anticipation, contextual information should be located in the direction of anticipation but not within the anticipation zone. This recommendation complements the proximity compatibility principle for simple dynamic displays.

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