Head Up Display
Head up displays within electronic games share much with their real-world counterparts. They provide the player with information "before his eyes." Real world examples of head up displays include targeting overlays in jet fighter cockpits, speed display projections on the windshields of automobiles. The key characteristic that HUDs in electronic games share with those in the real world is the desire to place information relevant to the current task within easy reach of the user.
Given the range of electronic games available, it's no surprise that game HUDs vary greatly in their form. Games that simulate jet fighters or other situations where HUDs are common typically simulate a head up display and other instrumentation as it would appear in the "real world." Falcon 4.0 [Blankenship and Gilman, 1998] approximates the HUD and other instruments used in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, providing targeting information, artificial horizon information and the like in the HUD, with radar and other instruments appearing where one might expect within the fighter cockpit. At the other side of the spectrum, one finds games like Super Mario Bros. [Miyamoto, 1985]. The HUD used in this game makes no approximations to real-world head up displays, but provides game information to the player in a "head up" fashion, listing the character's name (Mario or Luigi), score, number of coins, the current level, and time remaining to complete the level.
Many games fall between these two, providing head up displays that include information that resembles information one might expect from a real-life HUD or instrument panel, either by overlaying it on the view of the game world, or placing it in an information panel separated visually from the view of the game world. The espionage games Metal Gear Solid [Kojima, 1998] and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell [Hattem, 2002] take an overlay approach to their displays, while Republic Commando [LucasArts, 2004] attempts to contextualize HUD instrumentation within the stormtrooper's helmet visor and rifle.
As implied above, the HUD can have many components or "instruments" in its display. In many games this includes some sort of life/health indicator, inventory, a map or radar display (sometimes both in one), and various game-specific status displays, such as the display of the sprayer mode in Super Mario Sunshine [Koizumi and Usui, 2002]. Note that these instruments are parts of a HUD more than they are children of one. That is, a HUD is made up of a number of these components rather than being more specific subtypes of a head up display. While this list is meant to be representative of common HUD elements, it is hardly exhaustive.
- Buttonpress Indicator
- Control Bindings Display
- Health Indicator
- Lives Indicator
- Map Display
- Next Piece Indicator
- Player Configurable Buttons/Keys
- Points Indicator
- Radar Display
- Special Weapon Indicator
- Time Indicator
- Vehicular Instrumentation
Blankenship, S. and Gilman, L. (1998). Falcon 4.0. Hasbro Interactive, windows edition.
Hattem, J. (2002). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. Ubi Soft Entertainment, xbox edition.
Koizumi, Y. and Usui, K. (2002). Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo, gamecube edition.
Kojima, H. (1998). Metal Gear Solid. Konami Corporation, playstation edition.
LucasArts, developer (2004). Republic Commando. LucasArts, xbox edition.
Miyamoto, S. (1985). Super Mario Bros. Nintendo, nintendo entertainment system edition.