Friday, 23 July 2010


These days it seems that more and more interfaces are emphasising the use of search over more traditional methods of navigating applications.

Microsoft have replaced the Windows start bar with a search field, Apple have a context sensitive system wide search called "Spotlight" in OS X, my android phone even has a dedicated hardware search button.

Google of course are the reigning champions of things search. Take Chrome for instance, It's almost insidious in how it's changed how I browse the web, so used am I to just partially typing an address or search term into it's all knowing all powerful "Omnibox" and expecting it to pick up on exactly what I want, that when I have to resort to using another browser such as Firefox - which I used for years without complaint, I might add - I end up typing searches into the address bar (instead of it's separate search bar) and wondering why it's not working.

This shift in the paradigm of how we use computers is one I wholly support. How many minutes have you wasted searching each of the drop down boxes in a program like Word, looking for a specific feature?

For where games are concerned, I feel it's imperative to integrate a decent search feature into the tool chain, including (but not limited to) things like the world builder and string and asset libraries.

For games themselves, it's a slightly different matter, for big MMOs like World of Warcraft or Eve Online which have huge numbers of craftable items, enemies, locations and of course players, you obviously need a way to sift through it all to find what you're looking for.

For your regular triple A first person shooter, a search function is probably not going to help the game itself, but if you've got more than a dozen preferences in the options menu it could be a benefit. How about a console command search feature for first person shooters from the likes of Valve software and id?

Obviously a text based search is pretty pointless on consoles, which don't really support keyboards as standard. On consoles, simplicity is king, as you have a limited number of controls in which to grant the player access to your world.

For the most part though, Search is becoming more and more predominant in user interfaces and with good reason.


  1. You forgot to mention Windows Vista's (and 7's) search in the start menu, control panel, etc. Doesn't matter how well organised menus are, put a lot of items into them and the user is bound to get lost, and it is something the games should take advantage of where appropriate...Eve Online...great example of a game where search is useful.

  2. Yes I did! It's only a sentence in the 2nd paragraph, but it's there!