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Method of Action is peer to peer education for people who want to get things done. Learn by doing, participating and teaching.

KernType, a game to practice your kerning

KernType is a game that will help you understand letter spacing and kerning, custom made for Method of Action. Give it a spin, in a couple of days we will write an article on kerning which will explain the why's of kerning.

When Method of Action launches, you're going to need at least 90/100 to pass this mission, so get practicing!

October 10, 2011 6:44 AM

Exelent game!

October 10, 2011 9:22 AM

Cool game. I'm curious, are your "answers" based on pre-determined settings, or is it averaged based on results of attempts?

As a designer, kerning can be subjective and will often vary based on what you're designing for, or per the particular concept/usage. A headline could be kerned tight and body copy loose, for example.

October 10, 2011 11:35 AM

Robert: it's based on my own kerning and then proofed by other typographers. I agree that kerning is subjective and based on the problem is meant to solve, that's why the constraints are the first and last letter. Some examples are tight and others are loose.

October 10, 2011 4:45 PM

I think grounding the first and last letter really helps set the parameters for how to kern. Afterall, we are aiming for consistency in optical spacing between letters. Great work!

October 10, 2011 4:57 PM

Definitely a fun exercise. Learned a lot more about kerning by playing with it.

October 11, 2011 3:50 AM

Toronto!!! arrgh I knew I could have given more space after the T...I choked on that but got 97 anyway.... kind of addictive and I sense it could be very competitive with a timer and multiplayers...yeah!!! haha...

October 11, 2011 10:51 AM

CONGRATS!

October 11, 2011 11:00 AM

CONGRATS!

October 11, 2011 1:27 PM

Great game!
“Gargantuan” was a challenge!

October 11, 2011 2:54 PM

I love this! As a graphic design student- I think it is always interesting to find that there are other design people out there that really want to know the basics of something so simple as kerning! This is a marvelous idea!

October 11, 2011 5:57 PM

Hi, interesting game and I played it twice, but... I did find some of these answers are not exactly what I personally would consider the right answer for the exercise. Of course, the goal was to achieve optical consistent spacing and this is quite subjective even with the two letter constraints.

Most of the differences I found was in the serifs and the first time I played, I went through it the way I think the letters should be kerned and got a 82. Then the second time, I went about it with a more "typical" approach that most people would kern and got a 91. Sans serifs are a no brainer to kern for any competent designer so the results are always pretty much the same.

Now we know this is a game, but I find that this might make the player think that their method is wrong and since kerning is subjective, I personally don't like this aspect of the game.

Anyways, just my 2 cents.

October 11, 2011 7:22 PM

I have to agree with James on this. The game is cool for what it is. But here is a good rule of thumb when it comes to kerning. If the word looks right, it is right. That's coming from 25+ years of sign painting and sign design. I've made a living from properly spaced letters. ;)

October 11, 2011 7:41 PM

James and Craig: yes, you are right.

I think that once that the letters are more or less spaced out, and you account for the tricky stuff like slanted ascenders and descenders, then almost any solution is "correct", and the tweaking is subjective.

I had a link that said "is your solution better? get it to me" so people woud get me solutions on Twitter, I'd google their name and see if he had enough reputation to be considered masters of their field, and then I'd implemented their solutions.

Next thing you know: you start getting complaints from very reputable sources that the "Master solution" isn't good! So I just replaced the "suggest a solution" button for a "share your solution if you think it's better".

TL;DR: it's just a game, don't take it so seriously. Any score above 80 is good enough. I've seen scores below 50, that's whom I'm aiming for.

October 11, 2011 8:04 PM

Damn, didn't realize I was 2 away from completing all 10. Would have kept going had I known I was close.

October 11, 2011 8:21 PM

pf: use the keyboard, it's faster!

October 11, 2011 8:34 PM

absolutely excellent game, beautiful design, got it from a design friend on fb, reposted it. great stuff!

October 12, 2011 2:36 AM

This is really great!! I'm starting my working-day with it.
Congratulations and all the best with Method of Action!
/ Foxer

October 12, 2011 5:00 AM

I kern, therefore I am. 93/100. Whoot!

October 12, 2011 4:55 PM

I've never kerned before, and got 91 with a not-particularly careful attempt. Have I missed my calling?

October 13, 2011 1:58 AM

make another one :) had a blast competing for high score with my design friends.

October 13, 2011 12:46 PM

Nice!!! 88/100, good enough for a new type student&fan ;D

October 13, 2011 4:00 PM

Love it! I am a design fan but more of a 3d artist.

Got a 78 on my first go. The serif faces gave me some trouble.

October 13, 2011 9:00 PM

Fun game, but perhaps when you calculate the final score you could drop the lowest of the person's 10 scores. I got an overall score of 86/100, but that's because on one of the first tests my score was very low (um, in the 40s or something...sorry, I didn't share my solution). On a bunch of others I did much better (since the game allows a little flexibility in what it considers perfect/correct...nice touch!).

What would be totally cool would be an analysis of a participant's score and errors. Does the person have trouble with colliding serifs but a good sense of handling other issues?

Alan H: Yes. :-)

Mark, this is cool. Nice visual and UX design.

October 14, 2011 3:58 AM

Beautiful executed interactive design. And fun. :)

October 14, 2011 8:58 AM

very interesting game .. :)

October 14, 2011 10:37 AM

I love it

October 15, 2011 4:06 AM

Hey,

great game! I am definitely not a "master" in this field, but I found it peculiar that on "Gargantuan" your solution has slightly different space between the first "a"&"n" and the one at the end of the word? I would have thought that identical letter combinations should have the same kerning?

But then again, I just love typography, but am not in the design field for a living...

Cheers, Michael.

October 16, 2011 12:43 AM

My thoughts also on Gargantuan is similar to Michael, it starts off fairly loose and gets fairly tight towards the end of the word.

I only commented because you said: "then proofed by other typographers." Now I'm not a typographer, but I'm somewhat wary of statements like these when there are "obvious" differences in letter spacing.

It also wise NOT to implement other's solutions just because they're famous or important. For example, a famous type designer also doesn't mean they're expert at kerning. Possibly some of the best typesetters are not well known at all, especially on the Internet, because they do all the typesetting for their "famous" designer clients.

Once again, you mentioned that you are targeting those less familiar with typesetting... but that actually makes me more wary. Say they got a 95 in your game... now all of a sudden they're great at kerning, and that is not true at all. Especially when they've never actually typeset body copy, which is what I think is the real challenge to typesetting... Kerning a single word without worrying about word spacing, rags, etc is just type 101.

I'm not debunking anything you're doing, I just think it would do the player some good to know what it is that they've accomplished through this game and that the topic of typesetting is entirely subjective.

October 16, 2011 8:50 AM

James:

So what would you specifically change in the game?

October 18, 2011 5:17 PM

Cool. I've been programming professionally for 11 years and have done some ad-hoc designs myself. They work but don't look particularly nice. I'm looking forward to the other "missions". I didn't get what "kerning" was until the second time I played the game so my first score was shot (82 out of 100). Second time was better, 92 out of 100.

October 18, 2011 11:07 PM

Great game! I love knowing there are other typography geeks like me out there :)

October 22, 2011 6:10 AM

Great and fun game

October 24, 2011 11:24 AM

Great game you have here, Mark! I am a big fan of typography and have even designed my own font. This game was fun and kind of addictive! I got an 87 on my first try, then a 90, 92, 97, and finally 100. I wasn't going to quit until I got it! Can't wait for the next one!

October 25, 2011 12:36 AM

wow, I'm a loser. I can't get above 79!

October 26, 2011 8:54 PM

well that was weird. I had 95-100 points all the way through but on "Gargantuan" i had 34 (!). How's that? O_o

Nevertheless: genious game.

October 31, 2011 6:39 PM

EXCELLENT!

November 5, 2011 11:19 AM

Perfect timing! I'm just now reading a bunch of things on typography for our latest project and stumbled upon this website from searching delicious. Can't wait to see what else you all have in mind.

Best of luck! I love seeing new learning techniques emerge on the web.

November 6, 2011 10:28 AM

Is it possible to get a bad score? I got 95% and I don't consider myself a specialist in that department... I"d like to think I'm naturally gifted but... ;)

November 8, 2011 11:53 AM

great! can we expect more levels?

November 19, 2011 6:57 AM

Thank you for the game. I'm also a programmer and got a 92 score. Can't wait for your article to learn why I know how to kern and how can this skill be improved.