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Typography, the Video Game

Type Rider
Type:Rider (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic)

The history of typography is long and rich, and now it’s a video game. Type:Rider, created by Paris-based designer Théo Le Du Fuentes with Cosmografik, starts with cuneiform and proceeds through moveable type all the way to modern fonts like the revered Futura and the loathed Comic Sans.

Type Rider
Cuneiform level in Type:Rider
Type Rider
Progressing to moveable type

The video game was released last month for iOS and Android, and the interface is beautiful: your “character” is a rolling colon with the dots acrobatically flipping over themselves along a landscape of letters. You start in a sort of primordial landscape where your levels then process chronologically. Along the way, you can unlock texts on typographical history, although it’s up to you whether you want to pause to read or not, as you can catch quite a bit of the evolution of typography just in the gameplay. For example, the early Gothic stage moves through careful transcription to the Gutenberg Bible set to a subtle soundtrack of medieval music. Obstacles include spilled ink, swaying moveable type, and the crushing clamp of a letterpress.

Type Rider
Gothic level of Type:Rider

It’s a clever fusion between design and gaming, where each detail whether it’s themed to a moody Garamond or more sleek Helvetica has some meaning in typography’s history. The gameplay is forgiving to those with middling motor skills, and it does run a bit slower on iPhone 4, yet overall it’s an enjoyable immersion in how fonts and the written word have transformed alongside history, which has naturally now brought them into our present interface of touch screens. And you can ride along the writing with your dual dots all the way there.

Type:Rider is available for $2.99 on  iTunes, and $3.64 on Google Play.

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