You could pretty much add typography to any game and I’d be sold. The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog (a type memory game with an obnoxiously long title) is one of my favorites, and I make any of my poor friends with a slight interest in type play me to keep my undefeated streak alive. But this month, Cosmigrafik released Type:Rider, a simple platform game available for iOS and Android.
The game follows a little colon’s (yes, as in the punctuation mark) adventure through the history of type, collecting letters of various typefaces and facts to educate the player. It’s certainly not the most exciting game you could imagine, and I don’t foresee it becoming a widespread, addictive phenomenon like that of Angry Birds, though it’s relatively easy (until the Pixel level.). But for the embracing nerds, the curious and the type-minded, this game is a beautiful way to learn more about something that is such a big part of our everyday lives.
The game is divided into sections focusing on a famous typeface such as Didot, Times New Roman and Gothic. Each section is divided into four levels and once all the levels in each section are completed, they become little booklets filled with lengthy summaries of typographic history. The backdrop for each also reflects the time period during which that specific typeface came to be. Cleverly, most of the action in the game takes places in the silhouetted foreground. Everything is simple black shapes (or white, once Helvetica takes you to the snowy Swiss Alps) against elaborate backgrounds. The heroic colons bounce along giant letters and roll across parts of letterpresses and telegraphs at your control. If I could choose the setting for your dreams, I’d probably pick something along these lines.
My favorite section is Futura (1927), where the perspective is warped by the abstract art that was coming to life in the early 20th century. The levels are decorated with elements inspired by Futurist, Dadaism painter Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron (aka Cassandre), Russian Constructivism and the Bauhaus, all of which had an effect on the way type was used and made in that. Once all the levels in each section are completed, they become little booklets filled with history on important people, inventions, typefaces and cultural movements that had major effects on typography.
My only complaints after a week of play are these: 1. When you do unlock new information, you aren’t made to read it right then. Some people, I’m sure, are grateful for this, but I wish it popped up immediately so that you could read the history and then continue play. It’s just too easy to brush over it and keep going. 2. Ow. My wrists and thumbs. Maybe I’m a little too into this game but for some reason, no matter which settings (Type:Rider offers three different methods of control) I choose for game play, my hands ache before long.
Regardless, this game is stunning and a really neat way to widen breadth of you font knowledge. Plus the secret level at the end of the game is just amazing.