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In
video gaming A video game is an electronic game An electronic game is a game with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC, made of glazed faience, dimensions: 5.5 × 7.7 × 21 cm, in the Brooklyn Museum (New York City) '', 15 ...
, the HUD (heads-up display) or status bar is the method by which information is visually relayed to the player as part of a game's
user interface In the industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specificati ...
. It takes its name from the
head-up display A head-up display, or heads-up display, also known as a HUD (), is any transparent displayA see-through display or ''transparent display'' is an electronic display that allows the user to see what is shown on the screen while still being able to ...
s used in modern
aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by using either Buoyancy, static lift or by using the Lift (force), dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in ...

aircraft
. The HUD is frequently used to simultaneously display several pieces of information including the main character's health, items, and an indication of game progression (such as
score Score or scorer may refer to: *Test score, the result of an exam or test Business * Score Digital, now part of Bauer Radio#Score Digital, Bauer Radio * Score Entertainment, a former American trading card design and manufacturing company * Score ...
or
level Level or levels may refer to: Engineering *Level (instrument) A level is an optical instrument used to establish or verify points in the same horizontal plane in a process known as levelling, and is used in conjunction with a levelling staff to ...
).


Shown on the HUD

While the information that is displayed on the HUD depends greatly on the game, there are many features that players recognize across many games. Most of them are static onscreen so that they stay visible during gameplay. Common features include: * Health/lives – this might include the player's character and possibly other important characters, such as allies or bosses.
Real-time strategy Real-time strategy (RTS) is a subgenre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Cat ...
games usually show the health of every unit visible on screen. Also, in many (but not all) first- and
third-person shooter Third-person shooter (TPS) is a subgenre of 3D shooter games Shooter games are a subgenre of action video game, which often test the player's spatial awareness, reflexes, and speed in both isolated single player or networked multiplayer envi ...
s, when the player is damaged, the screen (or part of it) flashes briefly (usually in red color, representing blood) and shows arrows or other similar images that point to the direction the threat came from, thus informing the player from which direction the enemies are attacking. In many
fighting games A fighting game (also known as versus fighting game) is a video game genre that involve combat between pairs of fighters with game elements such as blocking, grappling, counter-attacking, and chaining attacks together into "Combo (gaming), c ...
, there are often two health bars on the top of the screen which often depletes to the middle (sometimes the opposite direction) with every punch or kick the player/enemy inflicts to their opponent. * Time – This may be a timer counting down the time limit or the time left until a specific event. It may also be a timer counting up to records such as lap times in
racing games Racing games are a video game genre in which the player participates in a motor racing, racing competition. They may be based on anything from real-world racing leagues to fantastical settings. They are distributed along a spectrum between more ...
, or the length of time a player can last in games based on survival. Many HUDs also use time displays to show the in-game time, such as the current time of day or year within the game. Some games may also display the real time. * Weapons/ammunition – Most
action game An action game is a video game genre Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting Broadcasting is the distribution of sound, audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic medium ( ...
s ( first- and
third-person shooter Third-person shooter (TPS) is a subgenre of 3D shooter games Shooter games are a subgenre of action video game, which often test the player's spatial awareness, reflexes, and speed in both isolated single player or networked multiplayer envi ...
s in particular) show what weapon is being used, and also how much ammunition is in it. Can show other available weapons, and objects like health packs, radios, etc. * Capabilities – gameplay options that are often accessible by the player during gameplay, such as available weapons, items, or spells. This can include when the ability will become usable again, such as ammunition,
magic point Magic or mana is an attribute assigned to characters within a role-playing or video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, comp ...
s, or some other type of "charge up" timer. Icons and/or text may appear in the HUD to indicate other actions that are only available at certain times or in certain places, to show they are available to perform and which button performs it; for example the text "A – open door" may be displayed, but only when the character is near a door. * Menus – Menus to exit, change options, delete files, change settings, etc. * Game progression – the player's current score, money, lap, or level (as in stage or as in
experience point An experience point (often abbreviated as exp or XP) is a unit of measurement used in some tabletop role-playing game A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of cha ...
s). This might also include the character's current task or quest. *
Mini-map A mini-map or minimap is a miniature map that is often placed at a screen corner in video games to aid players in orienting themselves within the game world. They are often only a small portion of the screen and must be selective in what details ...
– a small map of the area that can act like a radar, showing the terrain, allies and/or enemies, locations like safe houses and shops, streets, etc. *
Speedometer A speedometer or speed meter is a gauge Gauge (US: , UK: or ) may refer to: Measurement * Gauge (instrument) A gauge, in science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scie ...

Speedometer
/tachometer – used in most games which feature user operated vehicles. Usually shown only when driving one of these. * Context-sensitive information – shown only as it becomes important, such as tutorial messages, special one-off abilities, and speech subtitles. * Reticle/cursor/cross-hair – an indication of where the character is aiming or where the mouse pointer is. Pressing a key while pointing at an object or character with the cursor can issue actions like shooting, talking, picking up objects, manipulating switches, using computers, etc. * Stealthometer – displays the awareness level of enemies to the player's presence (used mainly in
stealth game A stealth game is a type of video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or ...
s and some
first person shooter First-person shooter (FPS) is a sub-genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or O ...
s). * Compass/quest arrow - sometimes found in RPGs, first person shooters and driving games, they help guide the player toward the objective. An example is in the
first-person shooter First-person shooter (FPS) is a sub-genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or O ...
''
BioShock ''BioShock'' is a 2007 first-person shooter game developed by 2K Boston (later Irrational Games Irrational Games (known as 2K Boston between 2007 and 2009) was an American video game developer A video game developer is a software devel ...
'', which displays an arrow pointing the direction of the next objective on the top of the player's HUD. Sometimes the compass itself might not be a real compass, rather one that points toward the next location or goal. Another notable example is in the open-world driving game ''
Crazy Taxi ''Crazy Taxi'' is a series of high score, score attack racing game, racing video games that was video game developer, developed by SEGA Hitmaker, Hitmaker and video game publisher, published by Sega. The first game appeared in Video arcade, arcad ...
''. There are also trends common among genres and platforms. Many online games show player names and a
chat Chat or chats may refer to: Communication *Conversation, particularly casual *Online chat, text message communication over the Internet in real-time *Synchronous conferencing, a formal term for online chat *SMS chat, a form of text messaging *P ...
text box for talking to the other players. RTS games tend to have complex user interfaces, with context-sensitive panels and a full-overview mini-map with
fog of war The fog of war (german: links=no, Nebel des Krieges) is the uncertainty Uncertainty refers to epistemic Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
.


How the HUD is displayed

Typically this information is represented numerically, with the health level being a number from 0–100 (percent): 100 representing full health and 0 representing empty, no health or
death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organi ...

death
. However, many other methods of visual representation can be used. For instance, certain games employ a "health bar" which empties as the player becomes hurt such as ''
Tekken is a Japanese media franchise centered on a series of fighting Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or ...

Tekken
'', ''
Street Fighter #REDIRECT Street Fighter , commonly abbreviated as ''SF'' or スト (''Suto''), is a Japanese fighting video game franchise developed and published by Capcom is a Japanese video game developer and publisher. It has created a number of List ...
'', and many others.
Armour Armour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage a ...
levels are also commonly monitored, either through a separate readout, or as part of the health system. For example, some ''
Halo Halo generally refers to: * Halo (optical phenomenon) * Halo (religious iconography), a ring of light around the image of a head Halo or HALO may also refer to: Businesses and organizations * Halo (bar), a gay bar in Washington, D.C., US * Ha ...
'' games use one recharging shield bar, acting as the health level. When this is depleted the player can only take a few more hits before their death. The same goes in ''
Destroy All Humans! ''Destroy All Humans!'' is an open world In video games A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, controller, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generat ...
'', but in the form of the player's shields. Traditionally, games used lives to represent health. Every time the main character was injured they would lose one of their limited lives. Another way to display the life in the HUD is demonstrated in ''
Gears of War ''Gears of War'', also known simply as ''Gears'', is a media franchise centered on a series of video games created by Epic Games Epic Games, Inc. is an American video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction wit ...

Gears of War
'', where the characters life is displayed only when they are taking damage, in which case a red cog known as the Crimson Omen appears in the center of the screen. The more visible the Crimson Omen is, the more damage the player has sustained and the closer they are to death. This health system is known as the 'Red Ring' system. There is also a lot of variance with regards to the display of other information. Some games permanently display all the weapons a character is currently carrying, others rely on a pull up weapon selector. Inventory or storage space may also be permanently overlaid over the screen, or accessed via a menu. Alternatively, only a limited number of items stored in the inventory might be displayed at once, with the rest being rotated into view using the '' ' and ''' keys. In order to maintain the
suspension of disbelief Suspension of disbelief, sometimes called willing suspension of disbelief, is the intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something unreal or impossible in reality, such as a work of speculative fiction, in order to beli ...
, some games make the HUD look like a real HUD within the context of the game's world. Many first-person
vehicle simulation game Vehicle simulation games are a genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Ca ...
s use this technique, showing instruments and displays that the driver of the vehicle would be expected to see. The displays in the helmet in the first-person adventure game ''
Metroid Prime ''Metroid Prime'' is an action-adventure game developed by Retro Studios and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. ''Metroid Prime'' is the fourth main installment in the ''Metroid'' franchise and the first game in the series to use 3D compute ...
'' or '' Star Wars: Republic Commando'' also mimic the player's
point of view Point of view or Points of View may refer to: Concept and technique * Point of view (philosophy), an attitude how one sees or thinks of something * Point of view (literature) or narrative mode, the perspective of the narrative voice; the pronoun ...
. A similar method is used in ''
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter ''Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter'' (''GRAW'') is a tactical shooter video game originally released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. The brand consists of five video game c ...
'' and ''
Crysis ''Crysis'' is a first-person shooter First-person shooter (FPS) is a sub-genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning ...
''. In some of these circumstances where the player and character within the game are meant to see the same "HUD" information, such as ''
Halo Halo generally refers to: * Halo (optical phenomenon) * Halo (religious iconography), a ring of light around the image of a head Halo or HALO may also refer to: Businesses and organizations * Halo (bar), a gay bar in Washington, D.C., US * Ha ...
'', the term "HMD" (Helmet-Mounted Display) would technically be more accurate. This is not to be confused with Head-Up Display. Some games, in an attempt to increase player immersion and reduce potential screen clutter, have most or all elements disappear when not needed (usually when the status they display is static), a method commonly referred to as a "dynamic HUD". In most cases, the player can display them all by pausing the game or pressing a button. Some games also give players control over the HUD, allowing them to hide elements and customize position, size, color, and opacity. ''
World of Warcraft ''World of Warcraft'' (''WoW'') is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. Set in the ''Warcraft'' fantasy universe, ''World of Warcraft'' takes place within the world of Azeroth ...
'' is notable for allowing players to significantly modify and enhance the user interface through Lua scripting. Another example is ''
Horizon Zero Dawn ''Horizon Zero Dawn'' is a 2017 action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The plot follows Aloy, a young hunter in a world overrun by machines, who sets out to uncover her past. The pl ...
'', which allows player to set the display of each element to always appear, show only when relevant, or never display. Despite the modern dominance of 3D graphics in games, HUDs are frequently rendered with a 2D look, often using sprites.


Reduction of elements

Sometimes, for the sake of
realism Realism, Realistic, or Realists may refer to: In the arts *Realism (arts), the general attempt to depict subjects truthfully in different forms of the arts Arts movements related to realism include: *Classical Realism *Literary realism, a movem ...
, information normally displayed in the HUD is instead disguised as part of the scenery or part of the vehicle in which the player is traveling. For example, when the player is driving a car that can sustain a certain number of hits, a smoke trail might appear when the car can take only two more hits, fire might appear from the car to indicate that the next hit will be fatal. Wounds and bloodstains may sometimes appear on injured characters who may also limp, stagger, slouch over or breathe heavily to indicate they are injured, a notable example being ''
Resident Evil 2 ''Resident Evil 2'' is a 1998 survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation (console), PlayStation. The player controls Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who must escape Raccoon City after its citizens a ...
''. In rare cases, no HUD is used at all, leaving the player to interpret the auditory and visual cues in the game-world. The elimination of elements has hardly become a trend in
game development Video game development is the software development, process of developing a video game. The effort is undertaken by a video game developer, developer, ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe. Development ...
, but can be witnessed in several titles as of late. Some examples of games with little to no HUD include ''
Astroneer ''Astroneer'' is a Sandbox game, sandbox adventure game developed by System Era Softworks. The game was released through early access in December 2016 before a full release in 2019. The player is tasked with colonizing planets, creating structure ...
'', ''
Silent Hill 2 is a 2001 survival horror game developed by Team Silent, a group in Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, and published by Konami. The game was released from September to November, originally for the PlayStation 2. The second installment in t ...
'', '' Jurassic Park: Trespasser'', ''
Ico is an action-adventure game Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres. Action-adventure is a hybrid genre, and thus the definition is very inclusive, leading it ...
'', '' The Getaway'', ''
Fable III ''Fable III'' is a 2010 action role-playing ACTION is a bus operator in Canberra, Australia owned by the ACT Government. History bodied MAN Truck & Bus, MAN 18.320 on R4 (Canberra), Blue Rapid route 313 File:ACTION BUS 488 City.JPG, Cus ...
'', '' Another World'', ''
Mirror's Edge ''Mirror's Edge'' is an action-adventure Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres. Action-adventure is a hybrid genre, and thus the definition is very inclusive, ...
'', ''
King Kong King Kong is a fictional giant monster resembling a gorilla Gorillas are herbivorous, predominantly ground-dwelling great apes that inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. The genus ''Gorilla'' is divided into two species: t ...
'', '' Dead Space'', '' Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth'', ''
Resident Evil ''Resident Evil'', known in Japan as is a Japanese horror video game series and media franchise created by Capcom. It consists of survival horror, third-person shooter, and first-person shooter games. The franchise has expanded into a Resident ...
'',''
Tomb Raider ''Tomb Raider'', also known as ''Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'' between 2001 and 2008, is a media franchise that originated with an Action-adventure game, action-adventure video game series created by British gaming company Core Design. Formerly own ...
'' (2013) and
Escape from Tarkov ''Escape from Tarkov'' is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game in development by Battlestate Games for Microsoft Windows, Windows. A closed Video game development#Alpha, alpha test of the game was first made available to select users on A ...
Another method of improving realism and immersion in games is through the implementation of dynamic HUDs such as the HUD in ''
Red Dead Redemption 2 ''Red Dead Redemption 2'' (stylized as ''Red Dead Redemption II'') is a 2018 action-adventure game Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres. Action-adventure ...
''. These types of HUDs reduce screen clutter by only displaying specific bits of information when the in-game situation calls for it. For instance, when exploring on horseback, the player will only see the mini-map (and the horse's stamina meter if they are galloping). When the player enters combat, the game will display information related to ammunition amount and type along with the meters for player health, player stamina, "Dead Eye" ability, horse stamina and horse health. The racing game ''
Split/Second ''Split/Second'' (released in Europe as ''Split/Second: Velocity'') is an arcade racing video game developed by Black Rock Studio and published by Disney Interactive Studios for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Revealed in March 2009 ...
'' purposefully concentrated the HUD into just the lap counter, position counter and the game's "power play" meter, all floating within the car's rear bumper, and completely dropping out common racing game elements such as lap timers or speedometers to reduce clutter and distractions.


HUDs and burn-in

Prolonged display (that stays on the screen in a fixed position, remaining static) of HUD elements on certain
CRT CRT may refer to: Science and technology Medicine * Calreticulin, a protein *Capillary refill time, the rate at which blood refills empty capillaries *Cardiac resynchronization therapy, a treatment for heart failure, and CRT defibrillator (CRT-D ...

CRT
-based screens may cause permanent damage in the form of
burning Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physica ...
into the inner coating of the television sets, which is impossible to repair. Players who pause their games for long hours without turning off such televisions or putting them on standby risk harming their TV sets. Plasma TV screens are also at risk, although the effects are usually not as permanent.


Other uses

The
Sega Dreamcast The is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are generally ...
, released in 1998, uses a
VMU The Visual Memory Unit (VMU), also referred to as the (VMS) in Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territ ...
on many games as a HUD. A notable example is ''
Resident Evil 2 ''Resident Evil 2'' is a 1998 survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation (console), PlayStation. The player controls Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who must escape Raccoon City after its citizens a ...
'', '' Resident Evil 3: Nemesis'' and '' Resident Evil Code: Veronica'' all using the VMU to show a mini version of the HUD, which displays the protagonists health and ammo. This feature was resurrected with the introduction of the
Nintendo Wii U The Wii U ( ) is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles a ...

Nintendo Wii U
, which uses the
Wii U GamePad The Wii U GamePad is the standard game controller for Nintendo's Wii U home video game console. Incorporating traits from tablet computers, the GamePad has traditional input methods (such as buttons, dual analog sticks, and a D-pad), touchscreen c ...
for some games as a HUD including ''
Mario Kart 8 is a kart racing video game developed and published by Nintendo is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. The company was founded in 1889 as by craftsman F ...
'' and '' Super Smash Bros. for Wii U''.


See also

*
Menu (computing) In user interface design User interface (UI) design or user interface engineering is the design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the resu ...
*
Second screen A second screen involves the use of a computing device (commonly a mobile device, such as a smartphone A smartphone is a portable device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be progra ...


References

; General * ;Specific {{video game gameplay Video game design Graphical user interface elements Video game terminology