Game thinking from Adam Clare

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Colour Trend Forecasting And Video Games

In 2006 when the last generation of consoles were released it was quickly discovered that all the games wanted to be puke-coloured, err, I mean brownish. This is inline with the gritty mood of the mid ’00s.

so much brown

What will the dominant colour be of the next consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)? I think that we’re going to see brighter, more optimistic, colours after a decade of grit and ‘realism’. However, to try and get the actual answer we can explore the world of colour trend forecasting.

Colour trend forecasting

Colour trend forecasting is the study of colour and predicting what will be the next influential colours in the world of fashion, interior deign, and industrial design. This will come across as nothing new to dedicated followers of fashion, but is worth exploring because game designers can benefit from this field of research.

There are multiple companies and organizations focused on colour forecasting like the Color marketing Group, Para paints, and the International Colour Authority. All of whom are looking at this issue from an economics point of view for various reasons (sell data, know which dye to buy, what threads, etc.). Yes, there’s essentially a whole industry on just predicting popular colours of the coming years.

The Committee for Colour & Trends (CCT) focus on a few aspects of just the fashion world:

CCT is a leading fashion forecasting service for the footwear and accessories industries. For 20+ years we have been the go-to source for footwear, handbag, jewelry, and accessories trend tracking. Our Committee includes industry veterans around the globe and experts in each classification, creating focused and comprehensive reports that help our subscribers get inspired and maximize sales.

Pantone has a team of influencers from the world of fashion and interior design to predict the future of colour. Pantone claims that the colour of 2013 is non other than emerald green:

Their colour trend forecasting encompasses not only design choices but material choices too:

Color is the catalyst that can spark the sale, define the space and create the magic and the mood. When designing any product, knowing what colors to use is critical to your success. PANTONE offers a variety of trend forecasts for every design market giving you inspiration to make the right color choices seasons ahead of their time. Our detailed comprehensive forecast products offer seasonal inspiration for women’, men’s, active, cosmetics, interiors and industrial design.

You can see their forecast for spring 2014 here, they are predicting bright colours (but not as bright as 2013).

Bring it to digital

There is no reason to limit their analysis to just those fields – we should also apply this knowledge to making video games. Really, I can’t think of a reason not to.

Web designers have an assortment of easy to use colour scheme designers that are free online. They have already figured out what colours work best to convey what kind of basic emotion:

emotion and color

Clearly, colour trends don’t happen in a vacuum, just look at iOS 7, it made heavy use of bright colours to make things pop and to provide a feeling of newness/freshness – something that was not ignored by CCT.

Fall 2013

Thanks Apple Insider

You can use this knowledge in your games!

There are many ways to bring the knowledge of colour trends into video games. Keep in mind that you should never forget who you are targeting and what you’re trying to say with the game. If you take a game like Limbo and try to make it match Pantone’s colour of 2013 then you’ll have a very different game at the end of the day.

Here’s some basic ways to enhance your game using colour trends:

  • Menu screens can follow trends
  • Casual games like Candy Crush follow colour trends
  • GUIs can be adjusted
  • The overall atmosphere of the game is impacted by colour
  • Think of the brown image above compared to Katamari
  • App icons can grab people’s attention using colour

What does the future hold?

Pantone 2015 prediction

Beyond the companies and links above, there are more ways to get on board the colour train!

If you want to get a head start on next year’s fashion you can find out the colours for spring 2014 (and some fashion trends) right now.

You can also check out the related links below for more on fashion or colour.

Colour is Fascinating

Last year I posted a documentary on seeing colour which went into curious ways that colour impacts individuals and cultures. This year I came across an excellent three part series on colour by the CBC radio show Ideas which origanlly aired in 2011.

You can listen to the show on Ideas’ website. That’s right, you can listen to a show about visual colours. Each part is an hour long and worth a listen. In part two they bring up a theory that green may have killed Napoleon.


Relatedly, here’s some recent information on how the colour of light can impact your sleep. Essentially, stay away from blue light at night and get exposed to orange, or preferably, red lights.

Whenever I bring up wavelengths and colour I think it’s worth mentioning f.lux to make your computing life easier. Also, for searching purposes, I need to include color spelled in the non-British fashion: color.

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