Monthly Archives: November 2015

Designing for Fun

Earlier this year, I gave a talk at Altconf “Designing for Fun” that is now on video” We’ve been iterating on an iOS application that lets people from our community record phrases, and we aspire to make it a fun experience.

Mightyverse is a passion project for all of us who work on it. I do mostly solo coding on the website these days with occasional pair programming with friends from the Ruby community. Most of the code for the iOS app is by John Fox, and we asynchronously collaborate where I edit code and sometimes add features as I sharpen my iOS coding skills. Developing something that is fun and really works for a community takes more design than code, so most weekends Paul and I iterate on mock-ups, talk through use cases and whenever possible connect with language learners who are willing to experiment with our latest theories on social language learning.

In the talk I discuss some foundational research about fun and learning, and approaches to game design. One idea from game design that is very relevant to Mighytverse is the concept of the “epic win.” The epic win is an extraordinary outcome that you didn’t believe was even possible until you achieved it (via Jane McGonigal).

Mightyverse seeks an epic win on two levels. There is the epic win for an individual who becomes fluent in a new language. Being able to speak another language is like having a super power — you can reach people, experience other cultures and make things happen that you could not otherwise do.

Also, Mightyverse, as a company, seeks to save the world’s endangered languages. There are over 6000 languages in the world. The majority of them are spoken by a tiny fraction of the population, and almost 80% of us, speak only 83 languages. Almost 50% of the world’s languages are endangered and one goes extinct every 2-3 weeks. Our epic win would be to create a system that would be sustained (and paid for) by people learning the “big” languages, which would always be free for endangered languages, providing tools that help people connect with their heritage, teaching and learning through social connections. We believe that diversity of language enriches our world.

You can watch the video or read my notes.

If you want to join the community that is experimenting us, using our iOS and web app to learn and share language, drop us a line. Our current focus is on English, Spanish, Hupa and Japanese with some active exploration into Mandarin. We would love to hear from you whatever language you speak or are learning.