Signifier & Defined Terms in Video Games

A theorist by the name of Charles Sander Peirce developed a model where semiotics enables gaming companies to consider how certain things put into a video game can be linked to a signifier and a signifier in which is perceived by the player. But it is then how the player interprets the signs and symbol that puts them into meanings to us. As a theorist of communication, Peirce focused on the connection between the model of gameplay meant to address problems that occur when the distinction between game-play and the content that’s being presumed.

Pierce’s model divides a sign into a tradable form consisting of the object’s representatives and the interpreter. The interpreter is a conceptual entity that includes all the conditions for determining the object by the representamen. Unlike De Saussure, Peirce’s ideas are not limited to communication but rather that a certain sign can be decoded and translated into other signs without ideation is an essential factor for describing the signifier and signified conditions put into work in video games.

Pierce’s triadic theory connects equal signs and sinsigns to indexes and icons. A mobile game like CandyCrush similar to Bejeweled which requires the player to match colors together to get receive points uses colors as a qualisign because players are presented with a set of colors that are only significant to the game. Players will react by attending only to those colors after learned that three kinds of the same color gains points and does not need to learn that the redness of one icon is similar to some sort of redness in our daily lives.

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The game makes meaning of the colors simply just for the game. An iconic sign that is in a lot of video game today is especially from genres like an adventure game and shooters is the user motion indicator icon that is on a radar screen on a map. This corresponds to the direction of movement of the user’s player or other players in games that you can interact with.

Moreover, video games like Gears of War and Call of Duty can implement users character abilities to speak out loud to themselves in efforts to provide some reaction to what’s done in the game whether that is being shot in game or spoken to in game. In a newly released video game called Red Dead Redemption 2 made by Rockstar games, there are a massive amount of semiotics that help the player travel and work through the game. Being set back during western time the need of semiotics was needed more due the massive world available and the fact they wanted to make it as realistic as possible. The main window that I wanted to focus on was the main window page where the player does and knows everything about their character. This page is where the player can free roam, complete missions and hunt animals. Upon free roaming around doing whatever it is you want to do because you can.

Since this game is so realistic the player needs to maintain the health of its main character. When a player presses LB to check his inventory, a menu with a bunch of icons and symbols pop up giving insight on what you have or what you need. The five icons on the left indicate the state at of your character and your house. All these icons apply to the firstness of Pierce’s idea simply being the icon for what it actually is. The heart icon resembles health of the character. It’s a direct representation for when we think of our health, we think of our heart stopping thus running low. So, when the health bar around the icon of the heart starts getting low, the player knows that we are dying. You can refill it by eating something from your item inventory. Next to the health icon is a light bolt conveying some sort of electricity. Electricity can be a synonym to the word energy and that’s exactly what is resembles.

The lighting bolt icon indicates your characters energy level because the game doesn’t let you run no stop because that isn’t real. The lighting bolt icon is used very often so most people understand what meaning it carries. The next icon is special ability that your character has. It is a “x” inside of an image of an eye. The image of a “x” in most games now a days signifies some sort of death. Then the eye is a symbol for the characters special ability so useless someone doesn’t play the game then they won’t know what that icon is for. But the two images go together to make what it means for the game. The last two icons are exactly like the first two icons that are you’re your health and energy but have a mini horseshoe icon inside the heart and the lighting bolt. The horseshoe is direct symbol to the animal horse so when seeing the icon its easy to connect its meaning.

When your horse is dirty, the icon for your horse’s health flashing a symbol of a brush indicating the player should brush his horse. These icons are constantly communicating with the player to let the know the status of their character. They also use two different types of colors to express when your character is full and if he is low. They use yellow for filled and they use red for being low. Red us usually an indicator for being hurt or bleeding out. Throughout the whole game there are many levels to Pierce’s firstness, secondness and thirdness that helps the player understand his character’s needs. There are also some types of indexical sign when free roaming. While free roaming you can see some smoke of fire while traveling which is made to draw the character near to show strangers near by but is indexical of fire burning from a camp fire.

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Signifier & Defined Terms in Video Games. (2023, Feb 19). Retrieved from

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