Stenograph keyboard Chart
So I've finally settled on the name I want to give to the as-yet-nonexistent steno tutorial video game: Hover Plover! A plover on the wing is already faster than your average earthbound creature, just as qwerty typing is much faster than scrawling stuff out longhand. But picture with me now... A plover in a hovercraft. Zooming around over land and water, rocketing a hundred feet into the air and then plummeting dizzily down to earth again, coming to rest an inch above the ground and snickering in your face. You can see it, right? Nothing, and I mean nothing, is faster than a plover in a hovercraft. It's the perfect symbol of what steno can do for anyone who wants to turn spoken words or thoughts into text. I'm not a game designer and I'm certainly not a programmer (sadly, I haven't written any Python code for almost a year now. I keep thinking I'll get back to it, but work has been ridiculously busy this semester.), but I've been playing video games since 1986, and I've got a few ideas on where to start. They can be refined and developed later, once Plover itself has gained a few more features and once we figure out a way to raise money for game development, but this is just to prime the pump.
There are several modes in Hover Plover, because it's got two distinct purposes: One, to teach steno to total beginners, from the keyboard layout to abstract principles of theory and briefing; two, to give people an incentive to use steno, to make it a self-reinforcing experience, as addictive as any game with a significant learning curve. The payoff of being able to write at 225 words per minute is so far in the future for many steno students that it may as well be impossible. That's why about 85% of people who enroll in steno schools drop out. And since Plover is designed for people who don't even want to make a career out of stenography, but who are approaching it more casually, who are mainly just curious about what it can do to help make their daily typing tasks more efficient, the fun-to-grind ratio has to be much higher than it is in your typical steno school (which basically just consists of mindwrenchingly boring dictation drills), or everyone will drop it like a lukewarm mudskipper within five minutes of trying it out. Even at low levels, there's got to be that incremental get-a-reward-and-raise-the-stakes mechanic that keeps people playing Tetris until 4:00 in the morning.
So the first mode is just key recognition, very similar to your typical qwerty typing tutor. Color-coded keys from the steno chart flash on the screen, and you're asked to type them. The plover zooms his hovercraft around the screen to show you where to go. First you get the whole keyboard with letters on the keys, then you get the keyboard with blank keys, and finally you're just given the letter and you have to find and press the key yourself to get the colored letter flag to come up. Then you start with basic chording, along the lines of the first few Steno 101 lessons. It's hard to make this bit too exciting, but once you've got the basics down, you can go into game mode.