One of the things that exciting about new distribution channels for small applications is that tiny markets have emerged through extremely specialized applications. A few weeks ago Dan Dickinson showed me a game for the iphone called Kern. He correctly assumed that I’d be excited about a type nerd game, and while the game is fun, its not as fun as I thought it would be because it really has next to nothing to do with kerning (its more like tetris)
So I started to think about what a good kerning game would be like and came up with the following concept.
The game is simple: first the player is shown well kerned word or phrase, set in a nice typeface. Then the letters scramble themselves all over the screen. The object of the game is to neatly kern the letters so as to reproduce the original. Once the player feels the letters are in place they press a “Check my work” button and the original floats down from above, pausing just above and then overlaying the players version. Then the player is awarded points based on the quality of the kerning. Each level would get harder and harder, eventually you’d just be kerning a bunch of A’s and k’s.
Additionally, “celebrity” typographers and type designers would be hired to provide the original samples. Each sample would be set in that designer or foundry’s own face and at the end of a level there would be a link to the foundry’s homepage or something to encourage the purchasing of the font the player’s been staring at for the last 10 minutes. Ideally, the type designers would recognize this as free advertising and provide samples for little or no cost. Updates to the software could come once a week or so, so one week you’d get an Ed Benguiat level and the next week you’d do Process Type Foundry or Spiekermann.
The best part, to me, is that you could include information about different typefaces, the designers who drew them, their history, and their usage. For instance, I would love to read a bit about how Robert Slimbach imagines people would use any of his drawings of classic text faces and then practice setting those faces the way he does. Instead of a simple diversion, I imagine this game could be both educational and a great exercise for improving typographic fundamentals.
Anyone want to make this game?