Interview with Sofia Fenichell, CEO of Mrs Wordsmith, About Their Upcoming Educational Game, Epic Word AdventureDec 17, 2019 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 10 rate Join us as we interview Sofia Fenichell, the CEO of Mrs Wordsmith, regarding their upcoming educational virtual world game for Apple devices, Epic Word Adventure!
We are honored to have obtained the opportunity to interview Sofia Fenichell, the CEO of Mrs Wordsmith, about their upcoming educational game for Apple devices, Epic Word Adventure.
Epic Word Adventure is a virtual world game where kids can join Barksy, a word-hungry hound who scoots around Blabberville, learning new words and using them in graffiti. By playing EWA, kids will be able to expand their vocabulary in an entertaining way, and the more words they learn, the more Blabberbucks they will get, which they can, in turn, spend on cool, new outfits and state-of-the-art scooters!
1. How did the idea for Epic Word Adventure (EWA) come about?
When we did our competitive analysis of the sector we noted three things:
1) There wasn’t a global app for Children 6-11 designed to accelerate vocabulary and reading age.
2) The visual and quality of what was out there was sub-optimal versus games kids loved to play such as Minecraft and Subway Surfer
3) Kids love to play games. And they have too much homework. So if we wanted vocabulary to be a part of their daily diet we had to make it fun.
The dream for Epic Word Adventure is to be the Minecraft of vocabulary and to create a global community of word learners.
2. What makes EWA so unique as compared to other educational word games like Bookworm Adventures?
Bookworm Adventures is console only. We are mobile-first. This is important for the age group and to create a daily habit around word learning.
More importantly, BA is a battlefield game with Scrabble word-formation. Players have to form words. This does not drive word learning to improve knowledge of meaning, reading age and exam prep (verbal reasoning).
BA is also over a decade old so the graphics and style are dated.
3. Using graffiti in an educational game seems like a pretty bold move considering the relatively negative views that some parents may have towards the hip hop culture in general. What would you say to parents who are on the fence about buying a subscription because they are worried about how the game may influence their kid?
Graffiti has been used by archeologists to provide insights into levels of Ancient Roman literacy through the errors in spelling and grammar it contains. And the word graffiti itself originates from Greek γράφειν—graphein—meaning "to write". Now, that’s very Mrs. Wordsmith.
Writing on walls is one of the oldest and most enduring ways for people to express themselves. It was practiced by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Mayans to declare love, express political beliefs, and make art.
Children also love “bubble font”. They'll receive free bubble font alphabet stickers with the app to encourage a love of making words offline.
4. Is EWA a suitable word-learning tool even for ESL and/or EFL students?
Our goal is to create a global community of adventurous word learners. Our app is designed to work for both L1 (English as a first language) and L2 (ESL) students. We tailor the word base according to a child’s needs and use images when needed.
5. Will EWA provide a report (daily, weekly or per session?) so that parents can check on their child’s progress and performance?
EWA will provide bi-monthly reports so parents can keep up with children’s progress. Parents will be given example words learned by topic so they can discuss words with their children if they want. We will also share images of what rewards children are earning to encourage a fun dialogue. We can update parents more frequently as required.
6. Is it possible for an EWA player to learn every word there is to learn in the game?
That’s a great question. We believe children can learn about 1000 words a year if they play 5x a week. There are 65,000 words in our database but not all of them are relevant to all children. We can shape a program that is relevant.
7. What role do you think gamification plays in education now and in the future?
Gamification plays an important role in motivation and retention. The research shows learning outcomes improve with gamification.
Kids learn best through play. Gamification promotes problem solving and independent learning, and is particularly beneficial in vocabulary learning because active engagement with words contributes to their retainment. Learning through play is proven to be particularly effective because children learn by doing, not just through passive memorisation. This works particularly well for vocabulary, because interaction with words in a variety of contexts, with visual- and audio-input, helps children better understand what these words mean and makes them more memorable. Gamification contributes to deeper engagement. If children are having fun, they are more likely to keep playing longer which maximises the educational benefits they will get out of an educational game. It is also important for the immediate feedback it provides. According to research, being able to give immediate feedback by rewarding accomplishments is particularly valuable. Rewarding performance by increasing the challenge is an effective reward because it increases motivation, and yet it is only used by less than 2% of existing educational apps for kids.
8. Are there any expansions planned for EWA that you could reveal to our readers? What sort of exciting new features or locations that potential EWA players can expect?
Yes! We will be launching more expansions for the game. Our next update is in Feb/March and it'll include:
1) More word learning challenges and ways to encounter words
2) Interiors and food stalls.
3) A richer mission experience.
9. Is there any plan in place to bring the game over to the Android platform as well? If so, is there an ETA?
Yes, we hope to be on Android in Q2 2020.
Thanks for answering our questions and for introducing Epic Word Adventure to us and our readers!
You can find out more about the game here: https://www.mrswordsmith.com/pages/epic-word-adventure