The Hyperspace Button

Some of you may remember Defender, and it was with much amusement I was reminded,in email, of the Hyperspace button. The email went along the lines of “I would have completed the form, but I pressed something and was hyper-spaced”.

Thanks to the Beastie Boys narrative you may remember how Defender was played (if you lived through the 80s):

The idea is to keep the green alien landing craft from taking your humans from the ground and changing them into mutants. A mutant is very dangerous to you, because he flies faster than you do, and shoots at you.



The concept of being Hyper-spaced – is based on one of two key emergency strategies that can be employed during the game. Lets say a mutant is hot on your tail – the Hyperspace button can get you immediately out of that space, and trouble, transported into another random space over the planet.

In terms of being Hyper-spaced when using an application must be a bad thing though… right?

Hyper-Space. Elements of bad UX/Design

  • Non contiguous flow. All or some content of previous activity is lost

You may or may not end up close to where you started

  • User disorientation

Its likely after a Hyper-Space you will need a few minutes to adjust to where you are (in the meantime bad things can happen)

  • Remnants

The problems and situation you left hasn't gone away. Its still lingering out there waiting to pester you again.

Hyper-Space. Elements of good UX/Design:

  • Contextual setting

In Defender at least there is a small radar at the top that shows where you are now

  • Consistent

A hyper-space will always take you to somewhere new without fail. Immediately discarding anything you were doing at that time.

In a certain way the iPhone central button is a HyperSpace button. The difference here is that it always reorientates users to the central apps screen (consistency). It probably means that remnants are still lurking which may require data cleansing.

As another metaphor the Defender “Smart bomb” which is used largely when you have no other choice

In terms of design this is probably the simple ability to remove all on screen content. In the case of forms, many but not all, do have a reset button to clear fields. For a phone this could be the ability to consistently reset your particular view or application. In the case of the Windows Phone 7 Series this could be the notion of moving back to the hub.

Push notification (RAW/TILE/TOAST) may be an example of how the Windows Phone 7 team have designed around being Hyper-spaced or Smart bombing, speculatively in absence of multi-tasking.


Additional Defender resources:

Xbox Live Arcade

Game example

Enthusiast site

Midway arcade classics site