Arcade Game Typography

I have nothing but praise for those who study niche topics like these. Toshi Omagari of MonoType, studied typography at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. He’s worked alongside big brands like H&M, and he’s previously contributed to Google Noto, and more notably introduced Tibetan Script support to Google Noto which is spectacular work. He helped resurrect Metro Nova from the dead.

Omagari has a limited-release book coming out (sufficed to say, it’s already sold-out but you can buy the paperback version here on Amazon). He has meticulously researched the wonderfully niche topic of video game typography and it’s freaking awesome:

The first book of its kind – a definitive and beautifully designed survey of ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s arcade game pixel typography. Exhaustively researched by author Toshi Omagari (a celebrated typeface designer at Monotype UK) Arcade Game Typography gathers together 250 pixel typefaces, all carefully chosen, extracted, redrawn and categorised by style, and each with an accompanying commentary by Omagari. The title also features 4 illustrated essays on videogame typography theory and practice, documenting the unique advantages and challenges presented to designers of these bold, playful and often quirky alphabets.

A beautifully produced celebration of the eclectic typography featured in hit games such as Super Sprint, Pac-Man, After Burner, Marble Madness, Shinobi, as well as countless lesser-known gems. Unlike print typefaces, pixel type often has colour ‘baked in’ to its characters, so Arcade Game Typography looks unlike any other typography book, fizzing with life and colour.

Love this bit about the original 1978 Space Invaders typography (image below):

The original game, and most of the clones, featured the above typeface, copied from Tank 8 with a minor modification to M.

Photos via Read-Only Memory
Left page: RoboCop 2 (Data East/1991), Captain America and the Avengers (Data East/1991)
Right page: Spider-man: the Video Game (Sega/1991), Xexex (Konami/1991), X-men (Konami/1992)

PlayStation Turns 25

The single largest innovator in the video gaming space just turned 25 year old today. Before the PlayStation came around, controllers were bulky, console felt like outcasts in your entertainment center. Joysticks felt clumsy, games were mainly sold in cartridges. Sony brought a whole new edge to the at-home entertainment system market. From The Verge:

There’s plenty of credit to award when it comes to video game controller design. Nintendo pioneered the core button layout with the SNES (D-pad on one side, face buttons on the other), and both Nintendo and Sega beat Sony to shipping an analog thumbstick for their consoles. But ultimately, it’s Sony’s innovations and ideas that would go on to become the elemental base of what we think of as a “video game controller.”

There are two pioneering parts to Sony’s foundation of the modern controller. First is the original PlayStation controller that launched in 1994, which would establish the broad design (elongated palm grips, shoulder buttons, and the D-pad / face button combination). And then there’s the Dual Analog Controller from 1997 (followed by the more well-known DualShock models), which would change 3D games forever by offering a second analog stick: one to control a character and one to look around.

Check out The Verge’s PlayStation 25th Anniversary Issue here.

GameStop Lays Off Over 100 People, Including Half of Game Informer Staff

From Andy McNamara, Editor-in-Chief at Game Informer:

Yesterday, as part of a GameStop restructuring plan, our parent company eliminated the positions of about 120 employees across its various offices. We lost seven members of our team – our cohorts, compatriots, and friends. They shaped us and made us who we are today, just like every member of the Game Informer team who passes through this company.

Welp. That sucks. I haven’t visited a GameStop in years. Probably won’t visit one ever again to be honest. That’s not out of spite either. Hell, I barely play video games these days at all. Let alone buy used games or consoles. I’ll tell you what definitely do — read Game Informer online.

I have a deep suspicion that these layoffs (or any others that follow in the coming 90 days for that matter), have to do the damned inverted yield curve:

So for the curve to invert implies that investors are forecasting that something unusual will happen. Something that will push future interest rates down low enough to justify long-term yields being low despite the risks. Something like a future collapse in private sector investment demand that makes government borrowing cheap. Or something like a series of Federal Reserve moves to try to reduce interest rates and spur more economic activity.

In other words, a future recession.

And, indeed, if you look at the historical track record, every time the two-year/10-year inversion has happened, a recession has followed.

Sigh. We’ll know if we’re in a recession in 6 months. The winds of change are pretty good that Trump will astroturf the U.S. economy in an ego-driven, exploitative ego-driven (and as a reminder, 100% totally avoidable) trade-war with China.

Regardless, GameStop is shitty business, even if Game Informer is a great online and print publication. It’s umbilical cord to GameStop is financial poison. The parent company that manages the magazine is just absolutely terrible. The level of incompetence mismanagement is gargantuan. They closed hundreds of stores in 2012. GameStop was caught intentionally deceiving customers in 2017, and the company has been trying to sell itself to private equity firms for pretty much half a decade. Perhaps, instead of peddling snake oil — they should hire back the seven game journalists, and should spin off the publication wholesale to someone who cares. Microsoft, The Verge or shit, even Rooster Teeth are all wealthy contenders happy to expand their media empire. Literally anyone would benefit from the editorial prowess Game Informer brings to the gaming beat.