In September 2014 I was invited to speak at Campus Party Quito, a conference held in Ecuador, to talk about Video Games. Campus Party is an international conference about innovation and technology that started in Spain and has grown to become one of the biggest of its kind around the world (Campus Party, n. d.). This was the Ecuador chapter and I was delighted to be able to take part.
One of my topics was titled Maps for Interactivity and Motion Graphics. During my talk I analysed the similarities and differences between User Interface, or Graphical User Interface (GUI), and Interface for Motion Graphics, or Fantasy User Interface (FUI). To summarise 40 minutes in a few words: Yes both GUI and FUI look similar and, no, they are not the same. GUI is intended to be used by a person –above anything else, GUI needs to be easy to use. FUI, on the other hand, is intended to entertain an audience –above anything else, FUI needs to be easy to read and look “cool”. Both are easily confused because they look very similar, but they are not the same. I constantly see artist and clients making this mistake and I thought I could offer my opinion based on my experience on both GUI and FUI.
In order to prove my point I wanted to use a simple example and I decided to focus on Maps. We are going to take a look at a briefing video from the game Syndicate (Starbreeze, 2012), this is FUI (Fig. 1), and the map menu from Need for Speed Rivals (GHOST Electronic Arts, 2013), this is GUI (Fig. 2). In both games I was the main person responsible to deliver this material.
Fig. 1 Starbreeze, Syndicate (2012), Video Game.
Fig. 2 Electronic Arts, Need for Speed Rivals (2013), Video Game.
The ultimate goal of both maps is to inform something to the user: a quest or a goal or just where to go next. Yet both do it in a different way. In the first example (Fig. 1) the user can just sit and watch the video in order to get the information, while on the second example (Fig. 2) the user has to interact and look for the information on their own. As you may expect, the development for both maps was completely different. The bigger point that I was trying to make here is that function dictates the form. Is this map an infographic or is it UI? Seems like a silly question to ask but I think this is the most important to ask because the answer to that question will tell you the main function of the map, and function always dictates form. If you want a map easy to use you probably don’t need a lot of text flying in your face, for example. But if all you need is a “cool” and informative map, perhaps you should create strong areas of focus. Function dictates form.
I try to remind myself this often because I sometimes forget. Sometimes I forget my on lessons and as a result I end up redoing things and starting all over again. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been in the industry, the simple things are sometimes the most important ones.
Campus Party (n. d.) Campus Party [Website] Available at: Campus Party [Accessed 25 April 2015]
List of Images
Fig. 1 Starbreeze, Syndicate (2012), Video Game. Electronic Arts (2012), Syndicate, Electronic Arts.
Fig. 2 Electronic Arts, Need for Speed Rivals (2013), Video Game. [image online] Available at: carlosvk.info [Accessed 9 May 2015]. Electronic Arts (2013), Need for Speed Rivals, Electronic Arts.