Throughout history the color red has been acquiring different meanings, depending on the culture and the time. It’s the color of the passions: love, hate, anger and rage, but also of courage and justice. It was a color associated with wealth and the divine, since it needed a much more expensive pigment to produce. Giving it a unique meaning when using it in an artistic work would not do justice to its potential as a mean of expression. Red was the first color the human named, since it was associated with the two great experiences of the time: fire and blood.

It was used as a danger mark, where there was a blood sign symbolizing a road with danger of death. Blood is a great reference in the cinema, its vision evokes a great violence, something that Quentin Tarantino uses very well. In works like Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino uses minimalism in the image, using muted colors, so that the blood stands out much more, giving it the importance it deserves in the scene, highlighting its crude and brutal meaning.

Use of red in films like Her and Reservoir Dogs

Her and Reservoir Dogs use red in a diametrically opposite way: one humanizes, the other horrifies.

In other films, for example in Her by Spike Jonze, the color red is used to give personality to Sam, an artificial intelligence. Being a color associated with passion, Jonze uses it to represent the humanity of the characters, making red always stand out in the shirt and the screen of the protagonists.

The use of color goes a step further when there is a player behind the screen

These visual resources give strength and coherence to the image, but they are also very useful when the interactive factor is introduced into the experience. The use of color goes further when there is a player behind the screen, since it greatly facilitates and improves the gaming experience.

Red as practical resource

The color enhances the game mechanics, for example, the first aid kits are usually white with a red cross or red with a white cross. On the one hand they remind us of hospitals and the signs of real life, but also because red is a color that stands out very well in most scenarios. We will hardly be playing in a space where red is camouflaged: from the Amazon jungle to a hospital full of zombies, red is a color that we do not find naturally.

Red is also usually associated with enemies, the state of health and everything that has to do with our continuity in game.

Use of red in video games, examples of Left4Dead and League of Legends

The red color helps us to focus on what is really important within the image.

Red to generate sensations

The warm little saturated colors usually bring a homely and comfortable feeling. Sunsets are a very common resource when we want our characters to have a moment of intimacy and confidence with each other, getting a comfortable air on the scene. It can also be used as a generalized feeling of the game, as Journey and Firewatch do. Both want to tell you that you feel and live the game, whether it is surfing through a huge desert or experiencing the history it offers, the important thing is that you came here to enjoy a more relaxed experience. For a specific scene or as a paradigm of your game, the warm tones help to generate that cozy atmosphere.

The color helps to define the psychology of the characters

The red color to create video game characters

The most iconic superheroes in history: Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Captain America, Superman ... use red as well as the emblematic Super Mario. Although Miyamoto used complementary colors so that Mario's figure was easily recognizable in the limitations of the NES, the color theory says that red is perceived as the color of audacity, passion and courage, while blue adds depth, wisdom and trust.

Red is also the color of characters like Claire Redfield, of Resident Evil, or Dante, of Devil May Cry, representing both his courage and passion and his bloody and macabre career, in the latter case. The colors they wear can be an intelligent way to define a little more the personality of our characters.

Red in the creation of characters like Mario, Claire Redfielf, Knuckles and Dante.

Red characters brave, passionate and, sometimes, also violent.

It is important to know the psychology of color when making our games. Knowing how and why the players perceive what they perceive will make it possible for us to play our cards better when creating an accessible product that reaches deep into our consumers.

Did you like this analysis? Would you like us to try other colors in the future? You can send us your suggestions to our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We will be happy to hear your opinion!


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Marta Gil

Marta Gil

PR, Product Manager & Social Media in Gametopia. FemDevs Regional coordinator.
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