Word Guessing Games
Some of my favorite party games to play when I’m with friends or family are games like Activity, Taboo, Cranium, or simply charades. So essentially word guessing games. It’s usually a fun and relaxed experience and there’s no time wasted having to explain many rules. Every body can jump in effortlessly, and you can stop at any time.
Of course nowadays these sort of games can also be found on mobile phones and tablets. Games like Heads Up! and dozens of similar games reduce the idea to a minimal version that requires nothing but a phone to play. The game simply displays one random word after another and the guessing player points the screen away from themselves to the other players who have to explain using words, pantomime or other means.
Now the digital versions of these games are just as much fun as the physical board and card games with the added advantage that you can play them anytime and anywhere, since everybody has their phones at hand at all times usually. The games offer a multitude of different word categories like activities, movies or food. They also usually have several different game modes and options. However, they all share one tiny problem for me…
I live in Berlin, Germany. The city, being a melting pot of different cultures and languages, has a population of 3.7 million, 30% of which have an immigration background. It hosts diverse immigrant communities originating in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and many other places. As such you’ll find yourself meeting and befriending people from all over the world.
So it’s nothing out of the ordinary to have a group of people where not everyone’s first, or even second language is English. You’ll have people speaking German, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, … and so on. The problem? Try playing a word guessing game where many of the players don’t even understand the word they’re supposed to explain!
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A Word Guessing Game for Multilingual Groups
I am a software developer by profession. I see a problem – I write a program to solve it. 🤓 With friends I was talking about creating our own word guessing game like “Heads Up!” that you could play with groups of people where not everyone necessarily spoke the same language, at least not equally well. So I started working on my own little game: “Word Hazard“.
The basic idea is simple. Instead of showing the word that players need to explain only in one language, display it in several languages at the same time!
The whole game is very simplistic. You start with a category selection that allows you to select topics such as animals, food and drinks, or Harry Potter. Once the category has been selected the game starts to show a number of the words. There is no timer (by default) and no points. Players can take their time to explain. Tapping or tilting the phone will show the next word. That’s it.
Personally I found the game a lot of fun with groups of multilingual people. In the settings any combination of supported languages can be selected, for example German, English and Arabic. This way the game can be especially interesting for language learners, as they can see the word in their native language as well as in the language they are trying to learn. And trying to explain the word with vocabulary they already know, or even just with hands and feet, might even help in remembering the words better in the long run.
What I like about this game is that you can walk into any party (a bar, a family gathering), pull out your phone and start to have fun immediately. And it works even when not everyone speaks the same language fluently. The game supports 18 languages in total, including English, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and even Hindi.
If you are interested in how this game was developed, or how we manage the database of words in 18 languages using Google Sheets and Firebase, stay tuned for the next blog post!
Thanks for reading! 🙌 Feel free to comment below.