The last 24 hours have seen my hobby project of the last month — the Great Language Game — spike from just 150 games played to some 80,000 games total, and from just 3 simultaneous players to over 600 across the globe. What a response! If you haven't read about the game, my earlier post introducing it is a good start.

Needless to say, my tiny server barely managed quite keep up. It's been some hectic shuffling and tuning, but the new stack is up and speedy. If you found the game a little slow yesterday, try again today and enjoy the game the way it's meant to be played.

The crowd

Some 60,000 people visited and played, with major sources being Hacker News, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. The day started with linguists getting excited, and providing a lot of supportive feedback. As the day progressed, the game got posted to Hacker News and a broader tech crowd got involved, bringing a lot of love, and a lot of traffic. Finally, it hit a wave of foreign language Twitter users who shared it in their own language circles.

As a side note, I also shared it using Google+. There, a single friend +1'd me. It's fair to say I'm still trying to understand where G+ fits in the whole social ecosystem.

The response

It turns out that I'm not the only one interested in foreign languages! Language aficionados came out of the woodwork to test their listening skills, compete with their friends, and generally savour some languages they might rarely get the chance to hear. A large number offered helpful suggestions, and my inbox contains lots of suggestions for places to get new language samples. Thank you all!

All this interest shouldn't be surprising: according to the British Council, of 1.5 billion English speakers, only a quarter are native language speakers, with one quarter speaking English as a second language, and one half learning English as a foreign language. This means that even in the English-speaking internet, most people bring other languages, other identities, with them. A game like this was an excuse to celebrate them.

What's next

There's been a few changes to the game experience suggested, and here's what's planned:

  • More languages Thanks to user contributions and suggestions, there's scope to add 6-10 more languages in the near future.
  • More samples I'm frantically validating and verifying language samples in my off time. These will make their way into the game in due course.
  • Less repetition Some smarter "less random" random question generation will eliminate the occasional repetition that some users have complained about.

After that, I'll take stock and consider the dream plan: making a space for people to record and submit audio in their native language, for a shared creative commons collection.

Once again, thanks for your interest and happy listening!