The game I will critique this time is Typeracer. It is a browser game developed by TeachMe games. Since it is a browser game the game can be played on your mobile phone browser as well. There is also a PC version available for download in addition to the browser game. The high level instructional goal of the game is to improve your typing skills.
Here is a link to the game.
Here is a link to the publisher.
The apparent learning objective of the game is to help you improve your typing speed, specifically your word per minute (WPM) count and accuracy. Players ultimately learn by doing in this game however, some prerequisite knowledge is required such as knowing how to use a keyboard and type words and sentences. Another one could be the layout of your keyboard as not all keyboards are the same.
While playing the game I learned that to type fast, you must not look at the keyboard. Instead, you must look at what you are typing on the screen. As a result you need good memory of your keyboard layout which is definitely a prerequisite knowledge mentioned above. This typing speed is also affected by the position you’re seated in, the position of the keyboard, and viewing angle of the display/screen.
After playing a round, the game offers you in-depth analysis of your speed, accuracy and also a playback of your typing for you to analyze and improve your WPM. Once I was able to recognize these factors and chose to work on it, I put my skills to the real test by playing against other players in real time.
Apart from improving your typing speed, the game also improves your memory of the keyboard layout which in turn improves accuracy and speed.
The core mechanics of the game are using your keyboard to type and using your mouse to toggle game modes. The game projects a blurb of text that you will type and has visuals of a car on a track and a traffic signal to simulate the feeling of actually being in a race.
There are 3 main game modes: practice mode, race mode and instant death mode. In the practice mode you get to practice with yourself. In the race mode, the game matches you with current online players and you compete with them to see who types the fastest. In Instant death mode, you die as soon as you make a single mistake so this mode is mainly for accuracy freaks.
I first started off with the practice mode to get a feel of the game. I achieved a 41 WPM in my first try of the game.
I then went over the analysis section and was able to figure out where I was losing speed and hypothesized that the position i’m seated in, the position of the keyboard, and viewing angle of the display/screen, memory of keyboard layout all factor into my speed.
So I improved these factors and gave the practice round another go. This time my WPM improved to 56. So this confirmed my hypotheses.
Now for the real test. I took my skills to the race mode and competed with other online players. As soon as I saw I was racing with others, this activated the competitive drive in me. I could feel the adrenaline flow through my fingers as I was typing and saw my car overtake the opponents. In the end I achieved a score of 58 WPM, my best overall speed although I finished in second place.
I think in the race mode as I was competing with other players, the motivation to win might have forced me to type faster than my usual speed. But this also affected my accuracy. But also in the race mode you have to wait for the game to queue other players into your race. So this gives you time to memorize the prompt which you are going to type. This might give me an unfair advantage to increase my speed.
Nonetheless, the race mode was fun and got me excited and playing the game over and over again and I saw my speed consistently increasing but might have plateaued around 63 WPM due to accuracy tradeoffs.
The game keeps track of your progress and speed or WPM. It also has a hall of fame section where you can see how you compare to real professionals and maybe progress towards that level. The game also assigns you a skill level based on your typing speed which I think might be another incentive for you to track and improve your level.
Two of the learning principles that I think are relevant to the game are Immediate Feedback Timing and Feedback. As you are typing the given prompt character by character, for each correct character match the game highlights your input in green showing you that you are heading on the right track. And this feedback is related to the immediate feedback timing principle which is seen in:
If you make a mistake it highlights it in red and you can fix the error immediately and continue typing. This does subtract from your average speed and also affects your accuracy.
After you are finished with the race, the game offers an in-depth review and analysis of your typing through a live playback of your typing and a visual graphic of your speed throughout the race.
The game also uses spacial contiguity in this section to describe the information contained in the graph such as your average WPM at different segments of the race and the summary of mistakes made.
As the game challenges you to test your newly improved skills in the race mode as well as instant death mode, I believe Application is another relevant learning principle in the game.
To be honest I had low expectations for this in terms of a game and as a learning experience simply because it’s just a game about typing. And I was wrong.
I was able to use the review and analysis section to elicit some factors that were affecting my speed. I then hypothesized and was able to test this in a competitive setting and confirm it to improve my typing speed and accuracy so I definitely learned something.
But the race mode really got my adrenaline flowing and got me excited which I’ve only felt in online FPS games so that was a pleasant surprise. I also think it does a good job of getting people to come back to the game and keep trying and improving themselves which I think plays an important role in retention of skills.
So Overall, Typeracer does a good job as a game as well as a learning experience.