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I'm writing a game in XNA for Windows and Xbox, and I'm trying to decide how to present quitting options to the user. It seems to me that there are two basic types of "quits":

  1. Quit the game and close it completely. On the PC, return to Windows. On the Xbox, return to the Dashboard.
  2. Quit the current playthrough and return to the title screen.

Is there accepted language for these things? I've tried a few basic searches - I apologize if this has already been asked - but I couldn't find anything. The best I can come up with is this:

  • Provide a "Quit" option on the title screen menu. This will close the game completely (see #1 above). This might not be strictly necessary on the Xbox, since players can close games using the Guide button (aka the "Xbox button").
  • Provide an "Exit to Title Screen" option elsewhere in the game. This will quit the current game and return to the title screen (see #2 above).

I don't love the latter option, because it's a bit too verbose for my tastes, but using something shorter, e.g., just "Quit" and "Exit", doesn't seem clear enough.

It seems like the word "Quit" is the logical choice in both places, but wouldn't using the same word for two different things be inconsistent and confusing?

What are other "quit" conventions that you've seen?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I suggest you use "Exit Game" on the main menu to mean returning to the desktop or to the dashboard. It's nice and brief, and my unscientific survey of screenshots/videos of some Xbox game title screens all seem to use it. Within the game, use one of:

  • Exit to Main Menu
  • Exit to Title Screen
  • Return to Main Menu
  • Return to Title Screen

I prefer the "exit" versions since they more strongly imply the destructive nature of the operation the user would perform. You could also just use "Exit to Title" if you prefer brevity, or just overload "exit game" and use it in-game to return the title screen. If you are worried that overloading the term might confuse users, you could provide some kind of tooltip or help prompt -- either when the option is selected or hovered over, or in a confirmation dialog, which you can bake together with the typical notice about unsaved data being lost.

For example, if the user selects "Exit Game" during gameplay, a prompt can appear reading "You are about to exit the game and return to the title screen. All unsaved data will be lost. Do you want to exit?"

The actual verb "quit" in UI is far more common on the Mac (and apparently PS3) than it is on Windows or Xbox. The latter platforms tend to prefer "exit" or some variant thereof.

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3  
As a side note, on the app hub "not so evil checklist" it says: Xbox prefers "Exit." However, "Return to Dashboard," "Return to Game Library," and "Return to Indie Games" are OK, too. Though, they do also say that an exit option is not strictly necessary from the main menu. I also wanted to say that, personally, I think an option that says "Title Screen"/"Title Menu" on the pause menu of a game is clear enough (with a confirmation, of course). –  Richard Marskell - Drackir Dec 2 '11 at 16:44
    
Great information, thanks! I think I will go with some variation of "Exit". Just a quick note: You mentioned that "Exit" is more common on Windows or consoles... With retail games, I'm generally a PS3 player, and I would say that the PlayStation world definitely prefers "Quit" over "Exit" - I think that's why I gravitated toward the word quit in the first place. But "Exit" is clearly preferred for Windows and Xbox, so... when in Rome :) Thanks again for your response! –  Michael Dec 2 '11 at 16:59
    
Good point, I adjusted my answer. –  Josh Petrie Dec 2 '11 at 17:17

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