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How Do Flashy Colors Impact Online Players

From stop signs to fire trucks and all the way over to company branding, color has quite a massive effect on us as humans. Color psychology says that the impact of colors depends on four factors: the color and its cultural significance – it differs from western to eastern cultures, color characteristics like brightness and saturation, the context in which the color is used, and the individual’s relationship with the color. So, as you can see, colors don’t randomly affect us, but, especially if they’re all flashy and attention-grabbing, what would their effect be on you as an online player?



Inspire and Incentivize

If you pay the slightest attention while on your favorite online gaming platform, you’ll see how a simple change in color scheme can inspire you to play more, take more risks, and get better. Anyone who has played an MMORPG game in the early days can recall the vast difference in quality between loading screens and the actual gameplay. While the loading screen displayed a whole world with too realistic of a design and an intense color scheme full of purples, yellows, and blues, the gameplay graphics themselves were never as good. What’s the takeaway for most players, though? The loading screen’s color scheme ends up immersing players further into the game and its world. When the player is directed to the game, they find themselves excited to finally attempt that attack on a boss, or finish that quest. Maybe join a new clan or purchase a certain item.

Increase Energy Levels

You might think this is a little bit far-fetched, but wait until you see what the medical field has to say about colors and their effect on energy. For starters, research has shown that colors impact our heart rates. Seeing the color red, for example, triggers a subtle threat response in humans, causing muscle contraction, faster reaction times, and forceful physical movements. In a late-night online poker game, you’re more likely to feel your energy coming back to you than if the color scheme was dominated by blues and cold hues. If you truly think about it, it’s similar to the feeling of urgency you get when you see that your phone’s battery icon is red instead of green. It’s also the same reaction you get when your screen turns red as you suffer damage in an FPS (first-person shooter) game. The change in context, however, determines how you feel and react.

Influence Emotions

Professional poker players, specifically, are quite attuned to their emotions and thoughts, as well as, the effect of those on their gameplay. By taking the information you now have on the color red, and combining that with how other bright colors, such as neon blue and bright yellow, also increase alertness and excitement, it’s easy to understand how easy it is for a poker player to subtly go on tilt. If you don’t know what tilt is, an article on Beasts of Poker defines it as a streak of bad plays that’s influenced by the inability to pick the best play because of a psychological factor. In most cases, it is anger triggered by a certain loss. Keep in mind that a flashy color scheme can’t put you in tilt mode, but it can make your emotions more volatile and your thinking prone to tunnel vision which, in turn, will lead you to make passive emotion-based decisions.

Direct Attention

One of the most popular uses of color in marketing is to influence a consumer’s attention towards a certain piece of information, product, or feature. In games, it’s not that different. Have you ever wondered why bonus packs, new features, and in-game purchases are all brightly colored? Add to that the used-before example of the red hue that comes on when your health reaches a critical level. If you had paid attention to the colors in your favorite games, you might’ve even noticed how a seemingly safe area can disarm you and deflect your attention with bright colors only for you to find an enemy rushing at you out of nowhere. Some games won’t direct your attention to a specific area, but they will deflect it on purpose.


The bottom line is that all the complex emotions we go through when playing an online game, whether poker or else, aren’t at all arbitrary. They’re highly influenced by design techniques and color schemes carefully picked and put to use by skilled designers. If you’re looking to rise above this type of immersion, and if you’d rather keep your rational side dominant, awareness is key. Once you know how the colors affect you, you can easily control the extent to which they do.