Friday, 22 January 2016

"Spot the Papyrus" Game

If you haven't been living under a rock for the last two decades, it's a guarantee that you've seen the Papyrus font at least once. In fact, it's become so widespread that my partner Yannick and I devised a game. On our two European trips, the first in 2013 and the most recent having just ended, we twisted a roadtrip classic into a game for the modern age: instead of 'Spot the Roadkill', we coined 'Spot the Papyrus'.
Whenever one of us spied a sign like the one below, we would gain a point. 
At times the competition was fierce, such as in San Gimignano in Tuscany. As Wikipedia explains, the font is used when a shop is attempting to achieve an "antique look", so in places where 'artisanal' goods were sold, Papyrus use increased. In some Tuscan towns we spent less time sightseeing than we did Papyrus-seeing, and yet in some locations we wouldn't spot a Papyrus for weeks on end.
This phenomenon of overused fonts is nothing new - you may be intimately familiar with Comic Sans. Now, both Comic Sans and Papyrus can be used appropriately, and it's unfortunate that they are abused. A blog dedicated to the documentation of this phenomena, Papyrus Watch, puts it perfectly: "The font I once used on a 5th grade paper about Egypt is now everywhere."
So, we laugh about Papyrus. We laugh when we see it boasting an "Artisanal Bakery" and we laugh even harder when we see it as subtitling in James Cameron's 'Avatar' film.
But back to the game! We played for around seven months, and Yannick's sister Fabienne would contribute points to his total when we were travelling with her (he believes he is the weaker player, so I allowed it). Yannick's score surpassed mine twice, but in the end I won by one point, with a score of 60 to 59. The key to quick Papyrus identification is of course practice, but a trick is that several of the capital letters are dead giveaways, such as the B, P, R, E and F. Another standout feature are the chunks taken out of the edges of the letters. I can now officially deem myself to be an Expert Papyrus Spotter! Watch out world, here I come.