Year Made: 2013
Platforms: PC, iOS, Linux, Android
Price: $2.99-$6.99 (depending on platform)
Content Areas: English, Social Studies, Art
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 2 hours
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Type:Rider, developed by Ex Nihilo, sets the goal of giving players a fun, beautiful experience while exploring the history of typography. Typically, typography is a subject that a book or movie could only make fun for the most dedicated of English, art, and history nerds. However, Type:Rider more than exceeds those standards. The game puts players in the role of a grammatical colon as the two dots explore ten worlds based on different fonts. The game does not only turn letters into artwork and complex levels, but also turns typography into a fascinating subject.
The most inventive aspect of Type:Rider is the reimagining of text as artwork to explore. Spanning from the origins of writing in cave art all the way through the Pixel font of the computer era, each level features beautiful background images based on historical figures or important moments in history as well as a soundtrack that only builds on the unique mood of each level. Type:Rider is also clear on how history, individuals, and changing cultural values affected how the written word was depicted, and the game highlights how recent so many of these changes have been. The visually diverse and appealing game offers just as much information as an article (or ten!) about fonts, but it presents it in an engaging and original way.
While the brief chapters on typography are spread throughout the game like awards or trophies, at the end of the day, the books still felt like more of a chore to read through, and I found myself rushing through some of the entries, so I could get back to playing. Another downside to Type:Rider were the controls. At several points in the second half of the game, I found the controls were not as responsive as expected, and I found myself flying into an abyss after pressing a button that should have saved me. Finally, while the idea of playing as a colon was innovative, the second dot often felt like a dead weight or a nuisance as I tried to navigate the puzzles with it behind me.
While Type:Rider could undeniably be used to teach about typography, the game also offers plenty of opportunity to read non-fiction texts that are rich in vocabulary and history. From Gutenberg to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, every chapter and level include an immersion into the history and connections to the historical figures, controversies, and motives for changing the fonts over the centuries. Type:Rider also has a free companion game on Facebook called Type:Rider - Creation Kit, which allows players to build and share their own games and play each other's games. The main game itself and the creator allow students to explore digital tools in art while Type:Rider itself allows for a focus on history and language.
Even if the controls go awry for a few moments and the two dots are occasionally tough to manage, it is difficult to deny that Type:Rider successfully blends writing and art in a historic context, leaving players with a beautiful backdrop to a unique experience.
Educational Rating: 6/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 6/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)
Buy Here (Steam) or Buy Here (iOS) or Buy Here (Android)
Level Creator Here