Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Online Steno Game: Cargo Crisis!

Mike Neale, creator of the amazing, has done it again! He's made a fantastic new Tetris-style typing game called Cargo Crisis, which uses the 500 most common words in the English language (most of which only require one stroke in the Plover dictionary) to drill that all-important fast-twitch muscle memory into beginning stenographers. It's got a devilishly simple mechanism and beautiful gem-like colors -- two surefire elements of an addictive online game. You can play it through the website using just a normal keyboard with n-key rollover, or you can click the "use with steno software" button, which will let you use it with Plover or proprietary steno software (or even just with your qwerty keyboard, if you want to see how well your qwerty skills match up to other people's steno skills). In the video above, I used Plover with my Infinity Ergonomic steno machine, and I think I did pretty well. (Oddly, I didn't realize that I was zapping the words boustrophedon-style until I watched the video. Funny how your brain comes up with patterns it doesn't see fit to tell you about.) You'll notice in the last part of the video that sometimes words will stack up in a single line, causing me not to get credit for them. It happens either when I misstroke a word or when I stroke a word that's recently been transformed and is therefore no longer on the board; the words I write subsequent to that aren't counted until I press the asterisk several times and get myself back to a blank entry line. That's something Mike's thinking about changing, since it makes the game considerably more challenging and jerks the player out of the lovely reflexive flow state that this sort of pure arcade experience can propel them into.

The other great thing about this game is that it's got a high score table! I'm hoping that the competition will be addictive, and will help motivate people to practice longer and harder than they otherwise would. I can't wait to see what other games Mike will come up with. It would also be worthwhile to collect a list of online typing games that are designed for qwerty typists but that also work well with Plover. The main criterion there is that they can't penalize for errors, since Plover frequently transmits and then deletes characters on the way to arriving at the correct translation. They also can't penalize for automatic spaces, have a character sending speed limit, or place too much emphasis on the individual keys of the qwerty layout, as opposed to actual words. And, as always, I'm looking for suggestions of Creative Commons-licensed songs that we can collect and apply timecodes to for the next version of Steno Hero. Steno and video games, two of life's greatest pleasures, together as one. More, more, more!


  1. I have been using "Type It Up" on my Mac (purchased through the Mac App Store). It lets you put in a custom list, and phrases are okay. I just wish there was a way it could repeat ones I'd missed automatically...

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