FORMation Alliance's new iPhone game KERN [App Store] is a bit of a curiousity, but one that seems certain to build a dedicated fan base amongst designers.

The gameplay involves properly aligning a letter into its proper place in a specific word and font:

A random type-centric word with a missing letter appears at a variable point size. As the leading begins to shrink, you navigate the missing letter to the proper space and release its handle to lock it in place. The placement accuracy is measured and your score is calculated based on the size of the type, the leading height, and the perfection of placement—all measured in points. If you miss by too much and form an unnecessary ligature, one of your five ligature tokens will be lost. Lose all five ligatures and your game is finished. How many points will you Kern?

Points are accumulated based on how close to the proper spacing you get as well as the distance from which you lock in your answer. The video shows a good example of gameplay (music not included):

The game's reasonably fun to play even if you don't have typographical experience, but I imagine it will hold a special place the hearts of those who do.

App Store Link: KERN, $0.99

  • dunkee

    looks fun!

  • http://deleted dunkee

    looks fun!

  • Nukie

    As a professional graphic designer, I vote nightmare. I find it interesting that a game that is suppose to be about fonts, and uses the names of different fonts in the game, presents the entire game in one font, Helvetica. Terribly boring.

  • Nukie

    As a professional graphic designer, I vote nightmare. I find it interesting that a game that is suppose to be about fonts, and uses the names of different fonts in the game, presents the entire game in one font, Helvetica. Terribly boring.

  • JKT

    Are you sure it's ALWAYS Helvetica? That would be a bizarre (& unnecessary) shortcoming.

  • JKT

    Are you sure it's ALWAYS Helvetica? That would be a bizarre (& unnecessary) shortcoming.

  • PopZen

    I think to be fair, the game is not about fonts, but rather KERNing, which is an attribute of typography-not at all related to different fonts. I think the designer nature of the game style is intended to be very minimalist and not feature-rich. Not for everyone, but for those who dig this sort of design (like myself) it resonates.

  • PopZen

    I think to be fair, the game is not about fonts, but rather KERNing, which is an attribute of typography-not at all related to different fonts. I think the designer nature of the game style is intended to be very minimalist and not feature-rich. Not for everyone, but for those who dig this sort of design (like myself) it resonates.

  • http://welborn.blogspot.com/ James Welborn

    As a former newspaper editor and graphic artist, this game really appeals to me.

    But, at 00:54, I nearly puked. Please fix your apostrophe catastrophe.

  • http://welborn.blogspot.com/ James Welborn

    As a former newspaper editor and graphic artist, this game really appeals to me.

    But, at 00:54, I nearly puked. Please fix your apostrophe catastrophe.

  • Nukie

    Well, the video only shows Helvetica being used as the font for all the words. As far as kerning goes, this teaches you nothing about kerning. In real life, you don't drop words from above and try to get them to land around a letter. LOL. I realize this is a game. As a game, I find it boring. It's a simplified version of Tetris but without any of the fun. And as a chance to educate people on typography and kerning, it completely misses the mark. But I don't think its intended purpose (notice the correct use of its) was to try and be educational.

  • Nukie

    Well, the video only shows Helvetica being used as the font for all the words. As far as kerning goes, this teaches you nothing about kerning. In real life, you don't drop words from above and try to get them to land around a letter. LOL. I realize this is a game. As a game, I find it boring. It's a simplified version of Tetris but without any of the fun. And as a chance to educate people on typography and kerning, it completely misses the mark. But I don't think its intended purpose (notice the correct use of its) was to try and be educational.