The future of typing games
Benjamin Bushe also sees the typing game market as a niche. “I don’t think it’s going to blow up,” he said, but he still thinks it’s good that more typing games have emerged in the last five years or so, and that more are planned to come. So maybe we can end on a more hopeful note about the future of typing games.
Malte Hoffmann thinks that “there are still a lot of areas that can be explored, other genres with typing as a mechanic.” Having direct control of everything from your fingertips is a satisfying feeling that can see more use.
Ettome believes that “this is a segment where there are so few games that you can be original. There’s still a lot to explore, a lot of new mechanics. I’d find it cool to have new typing games.” From the beginning, he has taken the typing constraint as a source of creativity. “There are so many creative things to do that I am not worried.”
Hugo Bourbon has seen “an increase in the number of typing games in the past two years” and believes the genre is expanding. The success of the typing competition website Typeracer leads him to see under-exploited opportunities with online multiplayer typing.
Diego Sacchetti is currently working on another typing game. “What we did with Textorcist can and will be greatly expanded in our next project, so I will keep pushing the limits and exploring what other meanings typing can bring to games.”
Will the niche grow as developers push the genre forward and new players join in the fun, or will it shrink as players stop buying typing games once the novelty wears off? The genre is still new (or at least, its recent growth in popularity is) so it probably has some good years to come. Not everyone has played their first typing game yet. But I’m not going to try to predict the future. You can make your own guess about it, even contribute to it by making typing games yourself, now that you know as much about the topic as I do.
We can do a quick recap before my closing thoughts:
I defined a typing game as one in which you type words. It doesn’t seem very convenient (and it’s a major constraint) but once you get used to it, there’s a satisfying feeling of immediacy in the controls. Players even underestimate how fast they can type under pressure. We said that the action of typing, as well as the words we type, have a meaning that we need to leverage for immersion.
We discovered a wide range of typing skills among players, and that an adaptive difficulty is very useful for accessibility, at least for the typing speed metrics. (I have more to say about accessibility in the bonus section, by the way.)
We listed the limitations of the typing input: the lack of versatility, the delay to read and type, the inability to control movement in space, the need for some players to look at their keyboard. We noted that the user interface, signs and feedback have to be designed with those constraints in mind.
After realizing that classic typing games didn’t offer much agency to players, we looked for ways to add depth to the typing mechanic, notably by having players think critically about what and how they are typing. But we also found other ways to diversify the game experience, by using the keyboard for exotic typing gameplay, or simply by relying on other game systems to bring depth with tried and tested methods.
We knew that the word “typing” can scare some players, partly because they think it means “educational”. But it’s also an effective hook to get the attention of players and journalists.
Finally, we came back to the original reason why we worked on typing games: its constraints are a source of creativity and overcoming these challenges can be both frustrating and fun for a game designer.
However, one last comment: you should not add typing to a game just for the novelty of it. There is almost always a better way to control your game than by typing words, and the controls should support the game experience, not the other way around. With typing you need to rethink some game design habits, and players need to relearn the rules of video games. So if you choose to pursue this path, be sure to ask yourself how using a keyboard to input words make the interactions more meaningful. In other words, why is your game a typing game?
If you read the entire article to the end, thank you. I’m impressed. A lot has happened since I wrote a small piece about Epistory’s design where I explained that I didn’t like calling it a typing game because it gave the wrong idea of what the game was. Since then, the genre has matured into a niche but legitimate space with a diversity of games made by innovative folks who bring their finest typing experiences. I’ll end by thanking all of them, especially the developers I chatted with before writing this needlessly long article: Benjamin Bushe, Diego Sacchetti, Ettome, Hugo Bourbon, Jake White, Malte Hoffmann and Sophie Schiaratura.