Type Connection: Educational Games Critique

Proud Taranat
5 min readMar 22, 2023

Game Metadata

Type Connection: A Typographic Dating Game is an educational game created by designer Aura Weiner for her MFA Design Thesis. It is published independently on the web. The game teaches players about typography and font pairings. In the game, players learn about popular typefaces, its history and characteristics, and how to pair them with other fonts.

Educational Goals

The process a designer takes to pair certain fonts can be difficult to explain. Type Connection turns this knowledge into a science and teaches it in a way that is enjoyable by using the metaphor of dating (finding good matches). The game teaches players about different strategies to pair fonts, such as pairing opposites, pairing fonts of the same family, or pairing fonts that share the same history. It also teaches players to analyze type forms and how certain characteristics of a typeface lends to better pairings.

The game also gives players a vocabulary to talk about fonts, using words such as terminals, counters, and x-heights. Type Connection not only teaches students how to pair fonts, but it also teaches students how to talk about fonts.

The game is appropriate for beginner designers and advanced designers. There is vocabulary used in the game that is not defined, so players should have knowledge on the anatomy of a typeform and the language used to describe it. As a design student, I enjoyed brushing up on the history of my favorite fonts and testing my existing knowledge. Because players are welcome to try different combinations more than once to see if they work, there is little punishment for getting the wrong answer, encouraging players to experiment more freely.

Knowledge gained from the game is immediately applicable in the domain of graphic and type design. The answer sheet (a page containing all pairings) shows examples of font pairings in use.

Game Elements

The gameplay structure of Type Connection is fairly simple and linear. Players start by picking a ‘main character’ font. They are then prompted to pick a matching strategy.

Player then have to pick a font to match with the main character. Descriptions help players make their decision. Before getting the final answer, players are prompted to compare the fonts a second time, this time more closely. A final answer is given once the player finalizes their decision.

There is no ‘outer loop’ in Type Connection. There isn’t a strategy players have to abide by, and there isn’t really a way to ‘win’ the game aside from getting the right font combination. The game is designed to be played multiple times. Because of this, the game can feel pretty repetitive. To counteract this, there is a separate page showing all font pairings that players can explore when they feel like the have exhausted the gameplay mechanic.

Learning Mechanisms

The game aims to impact the sense-making learning mechanism. It helps players make better sense of typography, giving players the language to describe why some pairings work and some don’t. It also gives players the knowledge to help them create new font pairings.

Learning Science Principles Used

Comparison: Type pairings is all about comparisons. Players are prompted to consider font pairings throughout the game. The designer does this by constantly showing fonts side by side, as well as layering them on top of each other. In this instance, the game shows that Univers and Linotype Centennial is a good pairing because of its similar x-heights and stroke widths.

Cognitive Dissonance: The game allows players to stumble upon mistakes but also explains why a pairing doesn’t work under a certain strategy. While playing the game, I noticed that I wasn’t trying that hard to get the right answer. I was equally curious about why some pairings might not work as I was about getting the right pairing.

Overall Critique

Overall, Type Connection is very successful as a learning experience. Even from someone who has a formal background in typography, I learned things that I never learned in the classroom. The use of ‘pairing strategies’ was particularly effective. In class, we learn to pair fonts by general ‘rule of thumbs’. For example, pairing fonts with good stroke contrast, similar x-heights, and fonts in the same font family. While the use of pairing strategies can sometimes feel a bit prescriptive, it definitely challenged my existing mental models of typography.

However, as a game, Type Connection is less effective. While the game itself is very enjoyable, its simple and repetitive game mechanics lack replayability. I do believe the game designer is very much aware of this, which is why they created an additional page showing all the type combinations you are able to find from playing the game. However, not all games are meant to be replayed, and as an educational game I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to learn in the limited time I spent with it.

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