Mavis Beacon, the typing software tutor whose beaming but strict oversight was the scourge of many sixth-graders' "free" period in the computer room, was not actually a real person, but rather emblematic of an age where the anthromorphization of programs was believed to better engage users with them.
Abrams described Renee L'Esperance as a "stunning Haitian woman," with "three-inch fingernails." Crane instantly wanted to put her face on the box for his typing software. They got to talking, and despite the concerns Abrams voiced ("She's never been near a keyboard!"), they soon made a deal. Abrams told us they paid D'esprance a flat fee, bought her a conservative outfit that befitted a typist, and rented a business square in Century City on a Sunday, in order to take the cover photo. As for her long fingernails, Crane said "Don't worry. We won't show her hands," according to Abrams.
The article is an interesting look back on how software gets personified, and how the subjects of those personas often end up returning to "a quiet life back in the Caribbean."
I admit: as someone who clocks in at about 120 words per minute I have a special affection for typing games. Deprived of virtually all other reflex skills or precision aiming, it is fun to feel good at something. Since childhood there have always been games, from Mavis Beacon to Typing of the Dead, that let me excel at my one main gift.
Now, developer Cannibal Cat Software has crossed Typing of the Dead with Dragon Warrior, and the result is Secret of Qwerty, an old-school RPG where you fight mean trees and ghosts and things by typing at them. You explore a map and some dungeons, gather gold and buy equipment, and I am really, really into it. You probably will be too.
It's the loving little touches—the intentional homage to the bad translations of ancient Nintendo games, the self-managing statistics, the easy saves, that make this one such a pleasure. You start the game at HOMEROW CASTLE. Come on that is so cute isn't it sghfjdghdj.
This little girl can type 119 wpm. It's not just a skill, it's a hobby. She started playing on the computer at age 4 and spends her weekends typing. Her goal right now? "I'd like to get to at least 200(wpm)."
While this may sound strange, I can understand the allure of the type test — when I was in middle school, I used to procrastinate from studying by taking type tests on my super old Apple machine. It's really not that different from any other addictive game — most of us now associate it with work, but back then I was constantly trying to beat myself in speed and accuracy. By the way, if you're curious to know how fast you're typing, you can take a one-minute typing test here.