Game Design 101: Color Theory I

Games are very visual experiences. How many times have you heard a reviewer boast about a game's graphics? Graphics are an integral part of many review scores. And an oft-neglected component of graphics is color scheme.

Whether or not you realize it, players will form a lot of assumptions about a game just by glancing at a screenshot. And we're not just talking about what type of genre the game is. Just by looking at the colors that are present, gamers begin to form ideas as to whether or not the game appeals to them.

Some games prefer a very bleak, gritty color scheme. The Call of Duty series is an excellent example of this. These colors depict realism. The subdued hues show the game is intended for a mature audience, getting away from the more bold 'kiddie colors'.

Conversely, some games relish in their colors. Think The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The colors are vivid and inviting. They forgo the rugged and mature look in exchange for vibrant spectacle. Seeing all of these colors on the screen triggers feelings of joy and youthful curiosity.

Both games are fantastic in their own right. Wind Waker is not a game designed solely for little children. And Call of Duty has more than its fair share of young followers (as any Xbox Live player will tell you).

It is the job of a game designer to figure out what colors will best reach your intended audience. Are your colors too vibrant? Too subdued? Or is there not enough color to tell? I plan on getting more specific towards what colors you should actually choose in later articles, but this should get you thinking it over until then. Make sure you follow us for more game design tips!