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For simple games, is there a de-facto standard that game over screens time out after a few seconds before, or require some sort of input in order to, transition back to the main menu?

  • Time-out pros:

    • Accessibility. Mobility-impaired users may have difficulty pushing the buttons so the game should advance for them.
  • Time-out cons:

    • Accessibility. Vision-impaired users may have difficulty seeing any post-game information displayed within the allotted time.
    • Tweaking the time-out so it's not too long as to be annoying if the user happens to game over a lot. Also: "Don't make QA mad"
  • Input pros:

    • Accessibility. Vision-impaired users may take as long as needed to see any post-game information displayed on screen.
    • Makes time-outs skippable.
  • Input cons:

    • Accessibility. Motor-impaired users may have difficulty pushing buttons.

I remember reading a Microsoft article about certain best practice design decisions regarding accessibility a long time ago but can't recall the specifics.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you have difficulty pushing buttons, you may have difficulty playing most games. Most games also have menus where you're required to press buttons. So that probably wouldn't be something most people worry about when considering which approach to go for. \$\endgroup\$ – Bernhard Barker Jul 16 at 10:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a timeout screen is the standard approach not in all simple games, but mostly free-to-play ones where they're trying to convince / manipulate you to spend money (or watch ads). \$\endgroup\$ – Bernhard Barker Jul 16 at 10:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Game over screens shouldn't exist at all. They are useless. Imagine if there would be something like game over screen in movies, that would be silly. \$\endgroup\$ – HankMoody Jul 16 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HankMoody You mean like some kind of text that came up at the end of the movie and said 'The End'? Yeah, that would be completely absurd... \$\endgroup\$ – Steven Stadnicki Jul 16 at 20:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @wychmaster Yes, asking what they should do is opinion based; if we consider it more from the new title point of view, it's less asking for opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Jul 17 at 0:29
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The accessibility issue is really only a problem when the input for leaving the game over screen is different form the input required to play the game.

For example, when the player is unable to operate more than 3 buttons comfortably, and your actual game only uses 3 buttons, then they can play it just fine. But when you then ask for a 4th button to leave the game over screen (or worse, a different input device like a mouse) then you added an unnecessary accessibility hurdle.

But as long as the input action which leaves the game over screen is the same as an input action which is critical for playing the game, then you are fine. Now any player who is able to play is able to leave the game over screen. And besides, it's more intuitive and convenient for every player to reuse a known input method than to introduce a new one. Another example for how thinking about accessibility improves the UX of everyone.

On the other hand, a game over screen which does have an automatic timeout can become an accessibility problem in itself. When you add some more information to the game over screen, then the player might need some time to absorb that information. The player might also want a break before starting the next round of the game, so pausing on the game over screen is a natural point for that.

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As @BernhardBarker stated

If you have difficulty pushing buttons, you may have difficulty playing most games.

I would go with the approach that matches your whole game controls. If you control your game using buttons, wait for button press. If you control game using voice commands, use voice commands for continuing. If your game has high contrast and big elements for vision-impaired players, use them on game over screen. And so on and so forth.

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It depends as well on your type of the game. For some games the game over screen gives you an overview of what you achieved, your progress, maybe even an option of retry current level, going back to level selection or main menu. This still holds true for simple games.

Another factor is that your game over screen can function as a break to reset your mentality, prepare for another round or reflect on your last game.

Finally as a user, I feel annoyed when I'm forced to wait. If you have a timed game over screen, allow the user to skip/ shorten it with the same user control they are used for playing your game.

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