Grade: & & & & & & & & & & (7 ampersands)
Think you’re great with font recognition? How much do you know about the “a” glyph in different iconic typefaces? Can you tell the difference between the “a” in Georgia and Times New Roman? How about Garamond and Jensen? Then run to the iTunes App Store and pick up Typography* and prove it!
Typography* is a new app for the iPhone and iPad by Naina Software. The game is a memory-style matching game with 4 difficulty levels. The object of the game is to match font-related pairs, differing based on the difficulty level. In “Schoolar,” level 1, you get a card with the a and the typeface name and have to match to the identical card. In “Junior,” level 2, you get just the a, which you have to match with its match. In “Senior,” you have to match the a to the font name. The master level, “Art Director,” you have to match the a to its designer.
Design and User ExperienceOverall, the game’s interface is well designed, a simple white on black with a 3×4 grid of cards with a nice blue accent color. The game is lightweight and smooth, very responsive and very stable. In playing a number of times, it never crashed. Also, it’s incredibly intuitive, not even needing directions for you to figure out immediately the point of the game. Also, though it’s hard to tell just by my description of what’s comprised in each level, but the difficulty of the levels is an appropriate step up.
The game draws from a number of fonts, including Futura, Clarendon, Rockwell, Gill Sans, Helvetica, and more. It was curious to me that it used some lesser-known fonts like Stone, but overall, it covers the giants of typography, both serif and sans.
ImprovementsWhat I love about the game is that it is simple and seeks to do one thing well. Because it’s not all that large in scope, there’s not a great deal to be improved upon; it does what it does well.
One thing I’d like to see is educational hints. For example, if you pressed a “help” button, it could show you an “a” in Courier and Rockwell and circle the bowl shape circled in red and say, “Note the slightly upward tilt of the bowl.” This would help educate you more so than trial and error.
Or how about a history lesson? Even if you can identify the iconic “a” of Helvetica, you might not know anything about its origins. Even a simple, well-laid out paragraph on each typeface would be an excellent educational addition in order to make us feel better about the time we’ll inevitably whittle away playing this addictive game.
Final VerdictThis game is a great start. It’s also a good teacher, and you can feel yourself growing in your attention to detail (read: becoming more and more of a type geek) as you play.
Overall, this game is great for only being version 1.2. I don’t think that many more levels or a “career mode” would make a great deal of difference. The game aims to be simple, and probably shouldn’t grow greatly in features.
Ultimately, games like this are important. They help bring awareness to typography, and help educate both designers and the general public about the eccentricities of different types of fonts. This makes everyone more sensitive to type in the wild, which leads to a greater appreciation of type on the part of the public, and a more adept use of type by designers. Everyone wins.
If you’ve gotten burned out on Angry Birds and would like a diversion that might teach you something other than what types of birds can fly at what trajectories to break ice, Typography* is a good bet, and well worth the typographic education for $1.99.