My name is Alex, and I have a problem. I beat my keyboard like a lifeless corpse in Mortal Kombat. I've had moments where co-workers have avoided me because they thought I was angry. Because I was hitting the keys so hard.
I think I've just found my perfect video game.
Even since starting at Kotaku, I've had people raise eyebrows at the ferocity with which I bang out paragraphs. Another writer in our building mistook the sound of my thumping digits for an actual human being once. She then apologised and told me it was OK that I typed really loud and I shouldn't be embarrassed.
It's no surprise, then, that I like to type. And quickly. It's cathartic. It reminds me of happy memories in my parents' study with my brother, tapping away on ancient keyboards. It's a fun time. And it's also efficient! Typing fast makes my job easier.
Weirdly, however, I've never gone deep into the world of typing video games. I've played Typing of the Dead before. Who hasn't?
But that side of games has been something I was happy to ignore until recently. A colleague, who patiently tolerates my repeated keycap bashings on a daily basis without going postal, asked if I had any advice for typing faster.
So I suggested video games. That's the best way to make learning fun, after all — turn it into a game.
Typefighters, available on Steam for the exorbitant sum of US$2, is what I've been looking for all these years. It's not just a typing game: it's a competitive typing game.
Typefighters is a competitive multiplayer game where two players battle each other using their typing skills. Its variety of modes does not only emphasise typing speed and correctness, but also other skills like reaction time, sustained attention, creativity, tactics and anticipating the opponents moves.
You can either play vs a single human opponent or an AI. The latter is pretty rubbish by default, although it was the only competition I had late in the afternoon. There's options to increase the tempo and the computer's typing speed; if you're half decent at typing, you'll want to up the speed to at least 5.0x to get a decent challenge.
There's eight modes in total, although the theme is largely the same: type as fast as you bloody can. I don't mind the connect-the-dots grid mode, and there's a neat tug of war mode as well. The standard mode is good if you want to build up a head of steam with your typing, since the words scroll across the screen horizontally (similar to many online typing tests).
At the end of every match, you get a stats breakdown showing your score, overall accuracy, amount of perfect words, and amount of words you typed per minute sans mistakes.
If you can't spare a piddling amount for the devs, there's a free version here for Windows, OSX and Linux. The free version doesn't have matchmaking though: you'll need to join people via IP, just like the good old days. Steam users can play with those using the free build, mind you, provided you have the host's IP.
The only downside right now: nobody seems to be playing, which is a bummer. Then again, I suppose competitive typing was never really destined to become an esport. So I'll type alone, flogging the AI into the white wilderness.