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Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing

Disturbing Dictation

Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing exposes edutainment’s seamy underbelly.

By Anthony John Agnello • August 16, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Edutainment games are creepy. Reader Rabbit, for example, gave off some serious typing lesson heebie jeebies back in the day—all those bright, big-eyed anthropomorphic characters telling you what a good job you did typing out a series of nouns. They’re just too sunny and encouraging. I always felt like they were up to something. The same goes for Icarus Proudbottom, the star of Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing. That guy loves typing too much.

Or does he? The enthusiasm with which he and his little owl friend take to teaching you basic typing lessons is certainly unnerving. Even the innocuous bits of the game’s interface seem like they’re bursting with unnatural energy. All you do is type out messages that appears on the screen, but each keystroke results in an explosion of pixels and sound. A health meter that ticks down with each mistake and the time limit imposed during exams add some tension, but it’s still just typing.

Or is it? Things far more nefarious than a carnal love of typing are afoot in Proudbottom, and the game is all the more hilarious for it. The developers cram a ton of humor into the game’s nooks and crannies, and the absurdist one-liners and inane owl trivia you encounter are made funnier by its strange narrative arc. Also, the game gets tough by the end, with letters that must be typed twice to clear them. Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing succeeds as comedy, a stiff challenge, and vindication for my paranoia about cartoony education games.

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17 Responses to “Disturbing Dictation”

  1. Fluka says:

    I…I think I just gave Holy Wow Studios access to my browsing history in perpetuity.  

    This was hilarious, but nothing compares to the *extreme tension* of my actual typing classes in fifth grade.  After the cute computer owl and cat, the teachers put a goddamn blindfold on you and made you type out difficult phrases.  On the other hand, I *do* have the typing abilities of a god…

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      In the mid-90s I managed to get a job doing high-speed data entry for the Postal Service when I didn’t know how to type the right way…largely because the take-home practice test ended up being exactly the same as the official typing test.  I scored something like 95%.

      After two and a half years of entering addresses, I was up to about 10,000 keystrokes per hour.  In the fifteen years since, I’ve managed to at least stay in the 60 to 70 words per minute range.  I still don’t keep my hands on the Home Row, though.

    • SamPlays says:

      God damn! You failed! And how!

  2. MintBerry_Crunch says:

    I realized not too long ago I suffer from minor PC FPS syndrome, where my left had is infinitely more dexterous than my mouse coddling right-y.
    That won’t deter me, I dumped all of my points into spunk!

  3. Cloks says:

    This was made as part of a Something Awful gamejam where the topic was “subversive entertainment” so if you follow the link under the game, it’s possible to find a lot of other games with the same themes.

    IPTT is great because it controls so well, it’s a novel idea that is executed greatly and is elevated by how perfectly the game works.

    • aklab says:

      Agreed! This was way more fun than it should’ve/could’ve been. 

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Yep.  I knew they’d get the mechanics right, but I could not believe that they did something so clever.

      I enjoyed it doubly much because I REALLY missed my calling doing educational games.  Instead, it’s education reform by day and video games by night.  *sigh*  -I- could have created terrifying owl teachers this whole time!

  4. huge_jacked_man says:

    That was pretty funny. Best thing to come out of SomethingAwful since that thing

  5. Chalkdust says:

    I think the greatest subversion of educational games comes from within one of the most recognizable and straightforward titles in the educational game pantheon.  Mavis Beacon isn’t a real person.   I only found out about this a few weeks ago, and my shock was on a par to when I found out that Chuck Mangione, running gag on King of the Hill, is a real person.

    For realsies, Mavis Beacon’s supposed existence is such a well-presented lie that:

    “Mavis Beacon is often thought to be a living or historical figure by the
    public. This confusion has led many to contact the software developers
    seeking to speak to, interview, or book Mavis for an event. Furthermore,
    as a result of Mavis Beacon’s continuous use in computer typing
    software, and her image on millions of software boxes, many consumers have reported confabulations (false memories) of Mavis Beacon winning typing contests or appearing on talk shows.”

    (Thanks Wikipedia!)

  6. SamPlays says:

    Here we are now, edutain us!

  7. Pandas_please says:

    I feel bad that all I can think of when I see the title of this game is Bilbo’s party from The Fellowship of the Ring. “It’s proudbutts!” always pops into my head unwillingly.

  8. blue_lander says:

    Mavis ain’t got shit on Typing Tutor for the Apple ][. 

  9. Labrat85 says:

    Anybody know of any stellar games that happen to be educational? It is not a genre with a strong field, far as i know.

    Oh and Fun fact Owls are actually incredibly stupid, their immense eyes leave very little room left over for what ends up being a tiny brain. 2.2 grams!

  10. Aaron Riccio says:

    They had me at the Typogatchi and then they kept throwing in more. (Like the fun facts.) The subversive theme’s a great one, especially here with the lawyer’s legal copy, but I must say that from a challenge perspective, after playing Mario Teaches Typing, I’m pretty much ready for anything. (I got 338,381 in a very tense repetitious Latin-based survival mode.)

    That said, don’t read any further, as here are a few spoilers on things I wasn’t ready for: the “magic” double letters were tricky as hell~! And oh, that storage closet. And I swear, if I’d ever had to actually type binary….