# The meaning of colours in other cultures

According to http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html and many other western websites certain colours have meanings.

To summarise the meaning of colours in the context of a typical RTS game:

• red = danger or enemy
• gold = wealth or high quality
• yellow = energy
• green = healing
• aqua = protection
• blue = power
• pink = romance
• white/grey = neutral territory
• black = mystery

(There are many more meanings that I deliberately left out as it is not applicable to games)

However this information was collected from western websites.

If I have to design a game that needs to be played internationally, would it make sense to go with the above "colour rules" or could I expect that other cultures like the Eastern or African cultures could have a significant different association with colours than the Western cultures?

If so, would it make sense to not only translate the text of a game for a foreign culture, but also translate the colours too?

• "Color symbolism" by the way might help with searching. – Sirisian Oct 18 '16 at 13:56
• Another thing you might want to keep in mind is that 8% of all men and 0.5% of all women have some form of color blindness. – Philipp Oct 18 '16 at 13:59
• Cultures are dynamic no matter where you are from, as an artist you can follow or you can lead. Spend too much time attempting to normalise your work to the accepted normal and all you do is compromise your own creativity. Deliberately breaking what is normal can be a winning formula, after all who are you trying to impress, the old man, or the young kid, lead the way... – Blindman67 Oct 18 '16 at 20:05
• I'm trying to imagine an RTS where "romance" is a critical status on the field now. – StarWeaver Oct 18 '16 at 21:44
• I added the tag localization. You may find a lot of good info using that in searches as well. When you reach a point of developing, you can set your game up to allow colors to be swapped depending on a myriad of circumstances. – Chris Oct 19 '16 at 4:31

Color symbolism in non-Western cultures (and even among Western cultures) is definitely incongruent. However, with regards to video games, typical Western and Japanese color symbolism is pretty universal; in other words even if a culture uses different colors for a given mood or theme, in a video game, it won't seem jarring to follow Western or Japanese norms for these simply because it's so pervasive.

For text coloring, yes - it can't hurt to vary color based on region context if you know that it might be more immersive that way.

A pretty good site is: http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/cultural-color.html

• But this is actually a great note about colors in games superseding cultural colors - the de facto rarity colors standard: grey, white, green, blue, purple, orange, red (and so forth, from most to least common). I'm not sure who, if anyone, did this before Blizzard, but it's incredibly common to a degree that cultural colors are disregarded entirely here. – Jesse Williams Oct 18 '16 at 17:59
• The rarity scale's upper half varies a lot, i've also seen gold and purple on the top end. And that's without even getting into things like rainbow (terraria…). Don't think i've ever seen pure white or black on the top though, propably because one of them is always the default text color. Brown and gray are always on the low side though. – StarWeaver Oct 18 '16 at 21:43
• Great points - but I'm not aware of any cases where those colors are culturally driven. That's the point I was trying to make (and may have oversold a bit). – Jesse Williams Oct 18 '16 at 21:44
• Well I would say the top ones can be influenced by culture, i'm guessing if the best thing is red, gold, or purple it's probably power, money, or royalty if it was devloped by the west or so; everything else is a gradiation between mundane and that. – StarWeaver Oct 18 '16 at 21:49

Those colors are universal, mane, they apeal to our primal selves. Red is the color of blood = danger black = color of night, space, darkness = mystery pink = color of skin when we blush/get excited (even if you're coal black you get a pinkish hue) green = color of plants, growth.

Don't worry too much about these kind of questions, if you're asking it from an strictly academical viewpoint I can understand you, but you should worry about internationalization issues when you have something to internationalize.

• This is actually inherently untrue... that colors have universal meaning. – Jesse Williams Oct 18 '16 at 16:23
• It is true though, I am fully aware that colors have different meanings in different cultures due to traditions, but if you're to program a game from a psychologial viewpoint, red is danger, green is good. Traffic lights, warning stripes, high visibility patterns etc are universal. – FriendlyMonkey Oct 20 '16 at 13:29