Home | Articles | Workshops | About | Updates

Loading screen feedback
vs. Tool-tip feedback

Jack Berggren Elers

In video games, its common that players receive assistance during play in different forms. Most people who play games have likely encountered a game over screen followed by a small little "tip" as the game reloads the previous section. Similarly, although maybe less common, players will have encountered feedback as play happens through the use of "tooltips", which can show up as user interface element or contextual menus, in an attempt to guide the player as they move forwards. In theory, both of these types can give the same information (and amount of) when needed but from an experience perspective there are some very important distinctions:

Loading screen feedback is given:

Tooltip feedback is given:

While both styles are still in use, tooltip style feedback has gained more popularity as a teaching tool. Mostly it's strength lies in the way it coaches the player while play is happening. The passive state between sessions might be filled with frustration or other emotions as the players start planning their next move. Light intrusions might be ignored by the player and harsher intrusions (like verbal commands) might throw them off their track of thought on how to solve the current problem.

Of course, the tools available to a designer in games or an instructor in fencing differs. As cool as it would be, Google glass is not yet able to guide your next move through AR. Similarly, however, an instructor has a lot more impetus to take the control and attention of a fencer where a game would try to cram "cheerful" tips as you load in the bossfight for the 200th time, with your head in your hands.

For this reason, the examples above are not a way to try to find a close 1:1 match of either situation in fencing. But it is worth considering what feedback a fencer recieves in a class, and how it is presented to them. Even more important is understanding when each type is applicable, and what state your fencer is in.

Aborting a fencers action (stealing their attention) mid-rep to try to bring some correction or other will not give the same results as getting their attention entirely. The concept of loading screen feedback doesn't apply as well to the individual situations, or when the fencer is already in the "game". If you're coaching a fencer through a drill, you rely on the drills own design to provide feedback, along with short command cues (verbal or otherwise) that help bring it all in (and dont forget the positive affirmation when reps are going swimmingly!). These actions align closer with tool tip based feedback, and whatever cues are being used, they should work towards painting the path of progress while keeping the fencer in their "game".

As for loading screen-based feedback, consider instead at what times you can catch a student in a "paused" state where their attention might be more easily directed back to you, and you can work on solving problems after the fact. Consider carefully how the state of "play" is broken in your class. The most explicit example is a student pausing themselves to ask a question, in which case they are usually completely receptive to any type of feedback, as long as your answer is relevant to the question. In other cases, I've personally found in group sessions that rather than trying to do error correction on specific pairs or fencers in drills, it works better to let the drill design do the feedback (or with skilled fencers, have an assumed role of coach), and when an issue has to be addressed, its worthwhile to take a full break and use that time to describe a potential issue and demonstrate a potential solution, or what specific details could be of importance in order to solve it, along with a reminder of the goals and effects of the current situation being drilled. Take care to not have this become standard. Pausing the entire group for feedback is a wonderful way to remove useful repetitions (and with it, a lot of tooltip-based feedback) from your fencers training.

In summary, both types of feedback can be seen and used as part of your teaching, explicitly or not. Tooltip feedback has a tendency to be more visible in drill design (it can give stages of failure or success that can guide the fencer further), specific cues from coaches in a drill/game (verbal or otherwise, like explicitly using body language to give specific targets etc), whereas the loading screen feedback finds more use as a collective/receptive approach, talking about problems and potentially solving them together, while still respecting the individuality of each fencer.

© Jack Berggren Elers, 2020. Posted with permission of the author.