Game Design — Color, Design, and Distractions — Part 4

Thomas Steffen
3 min readAug 3


Managing Distractions

While game worlds are often vibrant and lively, excessive visual distractions can overwhelm players and hinder their focus. Game designers must be mindful of balancing visual richness and avoiding distractions that may detract from the core gameplay. Carefully curating the environment and prioritizing essential elements can prevent players from feeling overwhelmed and ensure they remain immersed in the game’s objectives.

Managing distractions in game design involves carefully curating the game environment to ensure that players can focus on essential gameplay elements and objectives without being overwhelmed by unnecessary visual or auditory stimuli. Distractions can hinder player immersion, disrupt the flow of gameplay, and lead to frustration. Effective management of distractions is essential for creating a seamless and engaging gaming experience.

Although it may be done on purpose in some stages. The later Smash brothers series, especially with more people involved, can become overwhelming with all the bright colors, moving backgrounds, and numerous flashing effects. Some new players are even fooled by certain background objects that they think they can interact with or platforms they think they can stand on.

Although some of these were mentioned in my previous articles on this topic, it’s important to also understand restrictions and specifics when utilizing these techniques. All good things come in moderation.

Embrace minimalistic design principles and negative space to declutter the game environment. Avoid unnecessary details and keep the design clean and uncluttered, allowing players to concentrate on the core gameplay. Negative space creates breathing room for essential elements to shine and reduces visual noise. This does not mean your scenes, rooms, or areas should be empty and boring.

Maintain a consistent art style throughout the game to prevent jarring transitions or distractions caused by abrupt changes in visuals. Cohesive art styles create a unified and immersive game world that keeps players engaged without distractions.

Sound and music play a significant role in setting the mood and atmosphere of the game. Ensure that audio cues and background music complement the gameplay without overpowering or distracting players. Audio should enhance the gaming experience and provide valuable feedback without being intrusive.

Design user interfaces (UI) that are intuitive and non-intrusive. Avoid excessive UI elements that obstruct the player’s view or overwhelm the screen. Transparent or context-sensitive UI designs can help maintain the player’s immersion while providing necessary information.

Ensure that gameplay mechanics do not overlap in a way that creates confusion or complicates decision-making for players. Clearly define the purpose and function of each mechanic to minimize distractions and promote seamless gameplay. You want to minimize the frustration caused to your users and maximize the joy, fun, and rewards. In puzzle games, this can be tough to balance.

Conduct thorough playtesting to identify potential distractions and areas of improvement. Analyze your own feedback, player feedback, and iterate on the game design to reduce distractions and enhance the overall player experience.

Integrate storytelling elements and distractions in a way that enhances the narrative and gameplay rather than disrupting it. Distractions that contribute to the game’s plot or character development can add depth to the experience. These are more purposeful distractions rather than game disrupting or immersion disrupting distractions.

By managing distractions effectively, game designers can create a focused and engaging gaming experience that captivates players and keeps them immersed in the game world. Balancing visual and auditory elements, streamlining gameplay mechanics, and maintaining a cohesive design are key to fostering player enjoyment and satisfaction.

In conclusion to this series of articles, game design is a multifaceted discipline that involves meticulous attention to detail. By understanding the impact of color, design, and distractions on player experiences, game designers can craft captivating and memorable gaming worlds. Implementing contrasting colors to highlight important elements, striking a balance between the background and foreground, utilizing color psychology, and managing distractions effectively are essential tools in the game designer’s arsenal. Ultimately, when these elements harmoniously blend, players are more likely to be captivated by the game’s aesthetics, engage deeply with the gameplay, and have a truly enjoyable gaming experience.



Thomas Steffen

I am Virtual Reality Developer, UI Systems, and general programmer with a passion for Unity software development.