PlaySay uses Facebook friends as language lessons to get you to 'Hola'

PlaySay logo
PlaySay logo

Following its debut at TechCrunch Disrupt, the giant startup launch conference in San Francisco, PlaySay is now playable for budding linguists and aspiring polyglots on Facebook.

Founder Ryan Meinzer, who has already acquired over $570K in funding, as well as a partnership with McGraw Hill, came up with PlaySay while trying to learn Japanese in Japan. Right now, PlaySay is only teaching Spanish. But Meinzer wants to use players' Facebook friends as social lures to spread interest in non-English languages.

PlaySay does this with random Flickr photos (under the Creative Commons license) and tagged photos of your Facebook friends. This part of it works like flash cards. You'll look at photos and get asked questions en español, such as, "Is your friend in this photo?", "Which friend is this?" or "Is this a photo of a girl?" Not very sophisticated stuff, but when audio is included, the potential for tougher lessons grows.

You can also post a status to Facebook via PlaySay, and then friends can click on it and get a small quiz about the meaning of what you posted. Meinzer's logic is, "Your Facebook friends are your new classmates. Check ins, status updates and pictures are your course materials." Basically, he's banking on your most curious and nosy friends to go the extra mile.

Trivia and quiz games aside (e.g. Who Want to Be a Millionaire), there really aren't any educational Facebook games right now. At one point, I fantasized that Crowdstar's Happy Aquarium or Zynga's FishVille would actually teach people about real aquarium-keeping because both use virtualized real fish in their games, but no dice. Instead, Zynga flailed in the tank with things like Fish Battle Arena.


One downside to PlaySay's reliance on tagged photos is that people don't always tag photos that have them in it. And sometimes, friends tag other friends onto something to circumvent privacy settings or to just get their attention. Hence, I got asked by PlaySay, "Is one of your friends in this photo?" while I was shown a photo of a sneaker, and then told I got my answer wrong when I said the sneaker wasn't my friend. All Facebook beta game launches undergo some buggy rite of passage, but PlaySay will have to anticipate problems that no bug fixes will solve. Mind you, it's not that I particularly want them solved, because seeing that sneaker was actually pretty darn funny.

To keep track of PlaySay's development follow its official Facebook fan page.

Click here to play PlaySay on Facebook now >

How important do you think it is to learn another language? Would you like to see more educational games on Facebook? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment

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