5 crazy things JRPGs can teach you about UI / UX Design

Kira Leigh
Aug 23, 2018 · 12 min read
Tales of the Abyss is my most recent purchase. The nostalgia feels are real, and that’s a surefire way to get consumers to love your app.

There’s a bit of backstory you need to know before I start digging into the good stuff:

Why is this specific font used, and not something more aesthetically pleasing?

These are all concerns that UI and UX professionals must address:readability, usability, functionality, aesthetic, choice, and delight.

Video games address all of those things and more, and oldschool JRPGs especially had to address them with severe technological constraints at the time.

Enough context, let’s get to the heart of the matter, or we’ll be here for eons (see what I did there? Heh).

1.) Readability and Usability were gigantic hurdles for antiquated systems, and their boons and failures are exemplary educational tools.

Aesthetics are great. Design is great. But if the product does not function in a way that people can actually read, understand, and use, it doesn’t matter how pretty you make it.

That’s usability coming into play right here, baby.

Range of movement was also an issue.

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

Cool shouldn’t even be a part of your vocabulary.

Where FFVII fails with readability, accessibility, and usability, you can learn a lot.

2.) Functionality is always the name of the game. However, when it came to older games, it wasn’t quite a deal-breaker.

As the technology during the Golden Era of JRPGs (think: late 80s, early 2000s) was lacking, game developers often forced players into situations so shitty that UX designers the world over would now feel physical pain upon use.

Nowadays, you kids are spoiled.

Yes, I just legit said that and am realizing how old I truly am. Algorithms can now even predict what would delight users most or prompt users to take an action even before they’ve decided their path yet.

Your app should be easy to understand.

This is why UX exists in the first place. Because the user’s experience comes first. If they can’t understand how to use your app, they aren’t going to use it.

3.) Aesthetic decisions create a narrative for your user. Gaming had that shit on lock ages ago.

Your design decisions should reflection the function of your app.

Just because gradients are cool, doesn’t mean they make sense for what you’re trying to do.

4.) Choice is critical. In UI / UX, the absence or addition of choice can change the entire function of an app. Game narratives are no different.

The whole reason I wrote this article didn’t actually have to do with me completing Tales of Berseria.

5.) Is your app delightful to use? No? Then nobody wants it. If old-ass games can make things engaging, you can make things engaging.

Oldschool JRPGs had to overcome hardware and software limitations you’ll never understand unless you’ve made a game before (I’ve dabbled).

And there is no more delightful a game than mother f*cking Xenogears.

Narrative. The story. The feelings. The FOMO. The cultural impact.

That leads me to my final, final point. The UI / UX Tutorial Battle is almost over, make sure you finish it for max EXP:

Users come first, always. Your needs come second.

JRPGs knew this, despite the tech limitations. You should know it too.


Writings by the snarkiest of agencies

Kira Leigh

Written by

Content Marketer / Artist / Writer / Gamer - www.thereisno.design


Writings by the snarkiest of agencies