Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Mavis Beacon Ate My Brain!

You may be familiar with the classic Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing* series of software from Broderbund.

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing... and the perils of late 80s office fashions.

Well, Sega's sublime Typing of the Dead is like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing ... if Mavis Beacon was a flesh-eating zombie!!

Typing of The Dead. TYPE OR DIE!

Any self-respecting software developer should be a decent typist. Now you can prove how much of a keyboard ninja you really are, because here's the best part: Typing of The Dead supports 2-player competitive network play over TCP/IP, with comprehensive post-game stat tracking (see screenshot).

It's hard to explain just how wondrously bizarre Typing of the Dead is. It's a challenging, remarkably well thought out typing tutor, a tongue-in-cheek b-grade zombie movie, and the most hilarious multiplayer game experience you'll probably ever have-- all at the same time.

As a zombie enthusiast, I bought Typing of the Dead immediately after it was released in 2001, but I can't find any vendors currently selling the PC version of the game on Froogle or eBay. It may legitimately be abandonware and therefore downloadable as a torrent ISO from The Underdogs. Once you obtain the game, legally or otherwise, install the nocd patch from GameCopyWorld, then copy the ~560mb install folder to a network share. Here's how to get a network game going:

  • Copy the game to your hard drive
  • Obtain and write down IP address of host (you'll be prompted for this later)
  • Run game, select Network menu option
  • One person selects Host Session, the other person selects Join Session and types in the IP of the Host
  • Important: if either computer is using Windows Firewall, you must ALT+TAB to desktop, check for Windows Firewall block dialogs, and unblock the game.

Now sit back and watch the hilarity ensue. It's pure genius.

In my testing, network play works flawlessly using current Windows XP SP2 systems as long as you use the original version of the game. Whatever you do, don't install the "ATI patch" for the game, as it completely breaks the network multiplayer functionality!

* Interestingly, Mavis Beacon isn't a real person. She's a logotype persona: an imaginary identity created entirely for the purpose of marketing. So I guess that puts her somewhere in between, say, Peter Norton and Carmen Sandiego.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: