0Although MICR-based typefaces discussed above began appearing in videogame arcade cabinets, consoles, and instruction manuals from their earliest inceptions in the 1970s, it was not until the late 70s that such lettering was even possible on videogame screens, and not until the early 80s was it at all common. Adopting the same assumption that type created for mechanical reading signifies a lingua franca for human/computer interfaces (and hybrids), most of the games which used this style of lettering did so as part of some kind of science fiction setting, with some noteworthy exceptions. On the Atari 2600 console, these games include some of the Star Wars games released by Parker Brothers as well as a few other space-oriented shooter games. The table 2-1 illustrates the Arabic numeral glyphs for a number of these, grouping together similar or identical holotypes.
0Other games from the early 1980s make use of MICResque design, including Star Raiders, most popular in its Atari 400/800 version. As these examples demonstrate, these fonts of MICResque design were not implemented for the purpose of achieving greater clarity. If anything, these designs are less legible for human readers than simpler designs on the same technology. Instead, the fact that programmers chose these faces indicates an attempt to make some kind of associative appeal. Some games from this set adopt a science fiction setting, but that fact alone fails to prove that these MICResque designs have anything to do with science fiction. The subtler point is that these designs invoke an earlier, print-based technology that imposed mechanical constraints on the forms available for letters. Within an environment of similarly restrictive constraint, these designs reference their own sense of being constrained, not merely by conforming to the bitmap grid, but by working in spite of that grid to reference something beyond it. The converse of this relationship between constraint and expression is also true. The strictures of a bitmap grid preclude mimicking other print-based type design (serifs would be difficult to manage at this scale, for example, as would any humanist typeface), so a game programmer wishing to refer to something beyond the screen has a clear target in print-based forms which also employ grids. This, therefore, is the essence of paratypical videogame typography: associations based in mimesis which derive formal properties from the constraints of material technology.