“Which tab do I click on to get different font styles?” Steve Jobs asks, turning to look at his team. They have plenty to do before launching the Lisa and one employee dares to say that typeface isn’t a priority issue. With menacing eyes, Jobs fires him on the spot, yelling, “Get out!”
Fonts matter. That scene from the new Jobs movie showed that. The Lato font by Google is what makes MakeUseOf such a pleasure to read. Can you imagine a computer that won’t let you switch between Times New Roman and Arial with one click?
Type:Rider is a new game for iOS and Android that wants to celebrate the history of typography, while letting you have fun along the way. There are loads of ways to learn about typography online, but playing a game is obviously the most entertaining!
What’s It All About?
I love the look of Type:Rider. The game is made to look like everything you see is a silhouette except for the backdrops. You play as two periods — it seems like two wheels with an invisible buggy on top, but I like to think of it as an incomplete ellipses. I call it the ‘ellipses buggy’.
The physics-based game is controlled either by tilting your smartphone, using on-screen buttons or the ‘intuitive controls’ wherein you tap the left or right of the screen to move in that direction, and hold one and tap the other to jump. The intuitive controls live up to their name, and are my preferred way of playing the game.
In each level, you have to move your buggy around to collect letters of the alphabet, scattered across. Jump, swim, avoid spikes — it’s the usual fare of a platform game, but executed wonderfully well. At no point does Type:Rider feel too easy, but it’s also never so challenging that you give up on it.
Learn About Typography
The levels themselves are dedicated to individual fonts. So there’s the Gothic font with all of its mini-levels, followed by Garamond and its puzzles, and so on. The fonts are woven into the level design, becoming platforms that your buggy goes over or appearing in the background scenery.
Completing each mini-level unlocks a chapter in a book that tells you a bit more about the font’s history. Unlock each chapter in every font’s book to learn everything there is to know. It’s actually quite cool and I was surprised that I stopped to read each chapter instead of just moving on to the next level.
What Type:Rider does well is to involve typography in the game and then give a short educational discourse about it, followed by more gameplay and education. The fact that you are seeing the font everywhere while playing, and the short amount of information you have to digest at the end of the level, combine to make you want to know more about the typeface. The two are seamlessly connected, unlike many educational games which use the gameplay as a weak link to the knowledge being dispersed.
But Is It Worth It?
While it’s a lovely game that’s more than about just playing, Type:Rider perhaps asks a bit too much of you. For $1, I would have recommended it without a second thought, even for inclusion in our list of the best Android games. But for $2.99 on iOS and $3.64 on Android, I am not sure it’s worth it.
The question then becomes about whether you really are interested in fonts and typography and not just in a game. There are already tools to help you choose the right font, so it’s more about knowledge than practicality here. For just the entertainment part, I think $2.99 is too high a price for this. If you think of it as “edutainment”, then it’s money well spent.
But that’s just my opinion. Would you pay $2.99 or more for this game or stick with a regular platform title?