Game UX Heuristycs #4: Error prevention

Error prevention is one of Norman Nielsen’s fundamental heuristics. Developed more than 20 years ago, they continue to provide a foundation for creating useful digital products. For games, this heuristic has an additional bottom. In this post, I will describe how the universal heuristic to prevent player error is of additional importance in the gaming industry.

Double confirmation

It will not be surprising if we moved a solution that we know well from computer interfaces to the world of games. Who among us did not use the “Undo” button after sending an email rashly? Additional confirmation for negative actions (“Are you sure you want to delete this?”) And also for irreversible actions (“Are you sure you want to overwrite this game state?”). These improvements have prevented more than one tragedy in games. In RPG games, it is very good practice to inform the player that progress in the storyline will make it impossible to complete some side missions etc.

It is important not to abuse this feature. Not every player action requires double confirmation. The key is to find a middle ground between what needs confirmation and what should be liquid. We should also remember that a good solution is the ability to undo the action for a few seconds after calling it.

In adventure / action games, it is also important to communicate your opponent’s level. Especially when this one is out of your reach. This is a good practice and can save a lot of loading the last saves.

Blocking paths

Gamers want emotions. Interfaces cut them off from these. Consequently – they don’t read, they scan interfaces quickly and run on. Sticking to the RPG convention – no one plays role-playing games to spend time in the store selling items obtained during the adventures. They want to cash in unnecessary things as soon as possible. Ev. buy better equipment and hit the trail again. Preventing the sale of items that are currently equipped is one of those practices that prevent hasty decisions.

Ups i play it again

The player has the right to change his mind, do not take it away from him. Especially that when making a given decision, he might not have had all the information. Skill upgrade tree is a great example here. Always one of the most difficult decisions of players. At the beginning of the game, they don’t have a complete picture of all the possibilities. During the course of the game, they often want to change their minds. Let them do it.

Remember that this is a secondary action and should not be stitched under the main action button. Even large productions make this mistake. For example, “Control” uses the same button to pick up items and to reset points spent (hold down “X”). Yep…. its true.


There is nothing more stressful than losing an important game save. But it’s not just about saving up. It is the player’s prerogative to make mistakes. It is yours as a game developer to anticipate and prevent his mistakes. Making it difficult to make irreversible changes or enabling you to change your mind. To make everyone play better