These days, anyone with an internet connection and social media account can fancy themselves an armchair design critic—you don’t need to be a designer to have a guttural opinion or air your grievances about the latest rebrand, logo, knockoff, or choice of typeface (and we’ve seen how the power of the hive, on more than one occasion, has influenced brands to back-pedal on blunders that others have called out). That’s partly because design touches so many areas of our lives, and for so many people–as it should.
But when it comes to actual design fluency, are our eyes as nuanced as a designer’s? Helvetica may incite a knee-jerk reaction on both sides of the aisle, but the normal layperson or design enthusiast (myself included) would likely have a hard time discerning the intricacies of its letterforms from other, similar families of typefaces. Much in the way a painter knows her hues, a chef his flavors, and a writer her Oxford commas, typography could be considered the lingua franca of graphic designers—and warrants close study for those working in the medium.
Enter the Font Memory Game, designed by London-based designer Matej Latin, which offers a fun, accessible way to learn more about letterforms. Made as an educational tool as part of Better Web Type, a free online typography class he created for web designers and developers in mind, the game works just like the old-fashion memory game of yore–only in place of imagery, Latin has swapped in letters.
“The goal of the Font Memory Game is to help people train their eyes to better recognize the smallest differences between font styles,” says Latin, which sounds simple enough, until you give the thing a try. Players are prompted to choose one of two levels of difficulty, normal or hard, and given 25 moves to pair 10 sets of letters, all the same size, color, and letter (Aa) as a stopwatch times how long it takes you. What looks astoundingly simple is actually astoundingly hard–and for the non-professional designer, it’s an eye-opening experience to just how impressive it is to be able to identify the differences instinctually, in the few seconds the game allows you to see the card before it’s quickly overturned again.
Try for yourself, and it’ll challenge you to hold your tongue next time you hear someone suggest that anyone can be a designer.