An image depicting Ada Wong looking at a yellow-painted ladder in the Resident Evil 4 remake in reference to the Yellow Paint Game Design Debate.

Yellow Paint Game Design Debate

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Updated Feb 14, 2024 at 07:22AM EST by Philipp.

Added Oct 06, 2023 at 07:04AM EDT by Philipp.

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Related Explainer: Why Are People Complaining About Yellow Paint Being Used In Video Games? The Game Design Debate Explained

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About

Yellow Paint Debate is a viral debate surrounding the use of brightly colored paints to highlight interactable objects such as ladders and crates in video games. While sporadic discussions surrounding the topic appeared in the 2010s, a viral X / Twitter post in early October 2023 spawned a notable debate that went viral among gamers and game designers on the platform, additionally resulting in memes. The debate continued in February 2023 following another viral post.

Origin

Precursors

Early discussions and coverage of yellow paint being prominently used in video games to mark important objects or areas began appearing online as early as the mid-2010s, particularly in association with Naughty Dog's titles.[8] One early example that received notable engagement was a post to the /r/gaming[7] subreddit that showed a screenshot from The Last of Us and the title "Yellow always means climbable," garnering 340 upvotes in nine years.

On March 11th, 2023, X user @FPSthetics[9] sparked a minor debate that resulted in discourse on the platform from game developers after the account tweeted four images from the Resident Evil 4 Remake with the caption "this needs to end," receiving over 16.6 million views, 15,000 likes and 2,000 replies in seven months (seen below).


FPSthetics FPSthetics @FPSthetics. Follow this needs to end 2:09 PM Mar 11, 2023 X 8

October 2023 Yellow Paint Debate

On October 2nd, 2023, X[1] user @feydemon posted a photograph of a ladder splattered with yellow paint in the 2023 video game Resident Evil 4 Remake. The user wrote, "the yellow paint is so unnecessary obviously a ladder is climbable obviously a crate is breakable why did they do this," questioning the necessity of highlighting interactable objects in video games. The post (shown below) received over 2,900 reposts and quotes and 3,700 likes in four days.


nes @feydemon the yellow paint is so unnecessary obviously a ladder is climbable obviously a crate is breakable why did they do this 1:56 PM . Oct 2, 2023 14.4M Views

Spread

On October 3rd, 2023, several users shared screenshots of the post and quoted it with their opinions on the issue. For example, a screenshot posted[2] by X user @autixcx received over 570 reposts and 9,300 likes in three days. On the same day, X[3] user @FPSthetics quoted the tweet with an older White Man Has Been Here meme that received over 230 reposts and 3,000 likes in a similar timeframe (shown below).

Later that day, X[4] user @xArcky then posted an image providing a parody solution to the issue that received over 580 reposts and 5,200 likes in one day (shown below, right).


CAPCOM has been here. How can you tell? yellow paint

Later on October 3rd, game developer Pedro Braga made an X[4] thread defending the design solution in which he listed multiple examples of players being clueless in video games. The first post in the thread (shown below, left) garnered over 3,700 reposts and 19,200 likes in two days.


Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga Thread of game design decisions I had to make on things that seemed obvious to me but werent during playtests. nes @feydemon Oct 2 the yellow paint is so unnecessary obviously a ladder is climbable obviously a crate is breakable why did they do this 2:22 PM . Oct 3, 2023 1.7M Views Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga · Oct 3 1- In a platformer, players would assume you had to go to the right and kept jumping in the void over and over. I had to add a revolving staircase that spins you and makes you face left. They acknowledged the staircase was weird, but couldn't figure out the reason. 7 9 175 I added another huge exclamation point. 1 83 Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga. Oct 3 2 - When players got to a village, they wouldn't interact with any of the houses. So I added a giant exclamation point in one of them. An NPC would tell you to visit a shop, which has a huge sign. Noone would read the sign. I just add funny quips, but it works. 1 65 9 5,495 Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga · Oct 3 3 - People keep trying to interact with elements of the background in an RPG, so I have to add dialogue to them so they don't get confused as to why they can't use it. ❤ 5,201 2:22 PM Oct 3, 2023 176.3K Views 198.4K ❤ 4,690 ₁241K 5,536 Mr. Pedro Braga @mrpedrobraga. Oct 3 4 - It doesn't matter what the vibe of the game is, people always try to beat the s--- out of everyone they meet. Blocking the attack button would be too handholdey, so I add a disapproving response from the NPC. Then players are like "oh i'm so sorry." Q7 1 178 194.8K ↑ il₁ 205.6K 4.5 - So players online complain that they can kill people and then the game will have less content... What did you expect? A Ghost party? ↑ ….

Following the thread, the debate achieved viral status on X. Notably, on October 5th, 2023, Cruelty Squad developer Ville Kallio made an X[5] post attacking the solution, which received over 840 reposts and 10,800 likes on X[6] in one day (shown below, left).


Reincarnated Dismal Saint Moises Hallowell XII @villecallio pro ”game designers” crying about how this is absolutely necessary because people in a focus group can't find ladders. in reality people will just type "help stuck video game beginning area can't progress" into google and then look at a video of someone climbing the ladder nes @feydemon - Oct 2 the yellow paint is so unnecessary obviously a ladder is climbable obviously a crate is breakable why did they do this 5:11 AM - Oct 5, 2023-962.2K Views W N Climb the ladder. 5m 5m E Gotta climb that ladder and find the Resident Evil.

February 2024 Yellow Paint Debate

On February 8th, 2024, Dave Oshry of video game publishing company New Blood Interactive (@DaveOshry) posted a screenshot of ledges marked with yellow paint in Final Fantasy VII Remake, commenting, "THE YELLOW PAINT VIRUS HAS INFECTED FF7." The post (shown below) garnered over 4,400 reposts and 14,000 likes on X[10] in six days.


The Oshborn @DaveOshry THE YELLOW PAINT VIRUS HAS INFECTED FF7 FPSthetics 12:52 AM. Feb 8, 2024 25.8M Views :

The post was followed by viral reactions and memes as users argued for and against the notion that aiding players with yellow paint was necessary. For example, a February 10th post by X[11] user @NonTrotski garnered over 4,600 reposts and 39,000 likes in four days (shown below, left). A meme posted by X[12] user @bobvids garnered over 3,600 reposts and 57,000 likes in three days (shown below, right).


Woney For Nothing @NonTrotski If this was a Mother earthbound game you'd meet an NPC called mr yellowspraypaintsmen 1/3 of the way through the game who says that he and his 11 brothers one of which is a girl have been helping show you the way with paint because they know you are kids and are still learning The Oshborn @DaveOshry Feb 8 THE YELLOW PAINT VIRUS HAS INFECTED FF7 7:54 AM. Feb 10, 2024 1.9M Views bob @bobvids meanwhile, in an alternate universe: The Oshborn @DaveOshry WHERE THE F--- ARE WE SUPPOSED TO CLIMB IN FF7 FPSthetics 12:52 AM Feb 8, 2024 15.8M Views ALT 804 3.4K 12K 677 :

On February 11th, 2024, comic artist @ReffiComics posted a comic about yellow paint in games (shown below) that received over 3,900 reposts and 24,000 likes on X[13] in three days and was followed by more topical reactions and arguments.


Uh, this looks pretty obnoxious and out of place... NN @ReFFiComics You don't like the yellow paint? Deal with it! Gamers are stupid! Need I remind you that [INSERT OTHER GAME HERE] had to guide playtesters with [METHODS BETTER THAN YELLOW PAINT] Players NEED the handholding! LÜT SHIPPING STAIRS

Various Examples


DJ AyeTee @DJAyeTee N----- be 37 & they Opps be Paint 8:54 PM-6/22/20. Twitter for iPhone 5,622 Retweets 15.8K Likes Blake Andrews? @snakesandrews made an all yellow game so no one would be confused (these are just prototype graphics, don't be harsh) Yellow Game File Options Help X com 12 100 0.45.118 241317.35.415 CRUELTY SQUAD CURRENT Use the Ladder (9m) OBJECTIVE USE THE LADDER ANUNTUR!!! Ladders are a method of traveral. They can be used to reach higher up areas. Use the ladder by walking into it and looking upwards. GOOGLE SLAVE MADESTRA boz E 239
AkaBaka @ChromatoseDev I promise the yellow paint was added in after a dev was forced to watch in silence as a playtester got stuck for 20 minutes looking for a way up. nes @feydemon - Oct 2 the yellow paint is so unnecessary obviously a ladder is climbable obviously a crate is breakable why did they do this 12:00 PM - Oct 5, 2023 - 2.4M Views Michael Sawyer (slowbeef) @slowbeef. 14h Begrudgingly going to admit in real life, my wife would be like "just climb the ladder" and it'd be in front of me and I'd go "there is no ladder, I promise" and she'd go over and show me it was right there I'd end up painting it yellow or something after the third time. 2 17 6 * Fren erre telah ba 83 Xorment Painscape @TommyTokurico Almost as if the whole bright yellow ladder thing exists in the real world in most workplaces, or would that break my immersion from my job? 6:47 PM Oct 5, 2023 207 Views ılı 3,704 GOMEGA ASTEP AB GRP/STEPCS Reincarnated Dismal Saint Moises Hallo... @villecallio walked outside and saw someone in a yellow tracksuit. tried to climb him but it failed, what the f--- is going on 2:25 PM . Oct 5, 2023 49.2K Views
W 3 FOCUS TEST GROUPS ARE F------ STUPID Wow!! gamers are stupid vinny @VinnyVinesauce It's Yellow Paint. Yellow Paint is the Yellow Guy. lost kat @xenoindustrial 1970s my prediction is that 2023 will see the emergence of this decade's Yellow Guy 1980s 1990s 10:58 AM. Feb 12, 2024 897.5K Views 2000s : 2010s gio :) @giovan_h the yellow paint discourse was a punchline 12 years ago and no one has done it better since STANLEY PARABLE ADVENTURE LINE 8:00 PM Feb 11, 2024 1.7M Views THE

Search Interest

External References

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Top Comments

Pyroniusburn
Pyroniusburn

Don't agree at all with people saying it needs to be this blatant, there have been designers in the past who have made it a point to highlight things like this without making it so obvious that the player knows they're being directed, with things like differences in the lighting etc.
Don't try and tell me through all of gaming history we've been fine and now all of a sudden there needs to be a coat of luminescent piss over everything for people to not get lost.

+60
SparkStar1991
SparkStar1991

Really tired of devs watering down games to the lowest common denominators, like when they made the antilion grub maze linear in Half Life 2 cause the playtesters kept walking in loops. I think everyone with half a brain can appreciate how great Dark Souls is when you get past the massive difficulty curve that everyone encounters when they first start playing and nothing is really explained.
Actually wonder if this is the cause of the rise of open world games now and how well they're doing now, like Breath of the Wild, where they just dump you in a world, pushing you along a tutorial path but giving people the option to run amok.

+49

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