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BOOK REVIEW: “Arcade Game Typography” by Toshi Omagari #typography #retro @Tosche_E @atari @adafruit

In a new book, Arcade Game Typographyauthor Toshi Omagari, a typeface designer at Monotype UK, goes in deep on a thorough investigation of the history of typeface in arcade games.

This book covers roughly three decades of arcade-game title history, showcasing typefaces from hit titles, unsung gems, and abject failures. (12)

The paperback edition of the book comes with a colored cover sleeve and has a sleek, white finish on the front page of the book itself.

Aracde Game Typography is “notably the only book on video games which comprehensively covers type face”, Omagari says on page 8.

Omagari restricted his research to the most common character set: the 8×8 pixel format and even so still managed to review around 4,500 games!

To make the process of documenting the fonts more smooth, Omagari wrote a Python script to convert images into fully functional typefaces (266).

The book gives a unique outlook on the development of the arcade game industry. Using typeface as a lens in which to understand the history and limitations of arcade game technology, Omagari tells an enticing story of “outsider” typographers.

It’s also just fun to look at 🙂

Some notable quotes from the book:

  • “Well executed typography immerses you in the game more fully…Limitation is a great driver of creativity as is technological innocence…The lack of commercial interest in and influence form the computer type industry has resulted in a collection of beautiful art created by outsiders” (11)
  • “For a good portion of game history, font-making was carried out by graphic artists without lettering experience, or sometimes even the game’s programmers…Typography was not a high priority for game designers. Especially when it came to working with an unfamiliar writing date…” (45)
  • The visual language of low-resolution design relies on ambiguity which sounds contrary to what’s squarely visible on-screen. (74)
  • “I believe experienced type designers can learn a lot from this brief but fertile movement of outsider typography. The technology that hosted these creations might be long dead but these typefaces remain as thrilling, eccentric and daring as the era in which they first enticed players to part with their space change and press START” (267)

Check out some more shots of the book below.

Check out the book here!


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