Making gaming competitions more accessible with on screen displays

On screen displays in games can go a long way towards making viewing gaming competitions more accessible to players struggling to understand what’s going on.

Existing improvements

In NES Tetris, there are many ways to understand who’s ahead. In a normal game of NES Tetris, the score, the level, and the board state, are displayed. In order to determine who’s ahead, you can start by comparing the scores. I’ll call the two players player Jonas and player Joseph. If Jonas has more points than Joseph, then you might assume Jonas is ahead. However, this isn’t strictly true. If Jonas’ level is much higher than Joseph’s, then Joseph has time to catch up. Additionally, if Jonas has a messy board state, it will take a while to clean up and give Joseph even more time to catch up. This issue is partially addressed by adding the statistic tetris rate which shows the number of lines cleared by using a tetris. The issue with this statistic is that tetris later in the game count for much more than tetris early in the game, so an early high tetris rate might be inaccurate to show the viewers who’s ahead. aGameScout address this issue in his YouTube video Creating the Biggest Missing Statistic in NES Tetris. He adds a statistic to display the players pace, taking into account score and level. The new statistic makes the game easier to understand for me, a person into NES Tetris, but does it make the game easier to understand for people that don’t understand what’s going on? Does the number of numbers on the screen confuse people or can they focus on just the board or just the score? Commentary adds a lot. I won’t expand on any of these points.

In chess, the evaluation bar helps viewers realize when there’s been a huge blunder or mistake. It’s fun for me to look for what changed in a position that caused such a change.

Possible improvement ideas

In NES Tetris, I would like more displays. I don’t know how to play Tetris at all and I would love more indicators of whether players are placing aggressively or safely. If players adjusted their piece in response to the next box or not. I would love if there was an indicator and display to show whether or not players have perfect stacks or not, like in another of aGameScout’s videos

In poker, I would love if there was a display that communicated what the players are representing by betting certain amounts. My dad tells me “He raised here, so he’s representing Ace King”, but I don’t see it.