play.english | Skillshare Projects

Guido Gautsch

my name is pronounced ghee-dough




play.english in a nutshell 

The goal of my game is to make the English language playable.

the blurb

As an ESL teacher, I often wonder how I could help my students learn more effectively. Learning a language from scratch to mastery takes anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 hours. It can be a lot of fun, but it also involves hard work, repetition and boring stuff like learning grammar and learning thousands of words. 

There are an estimated 1bn (!!) people in the world learning English as a second or foreign language. Many try to improve their English, but often give up because it's too boring/expensive/tough and go play Candy Crush or some other game instead, feeling guilty all the way.

Gamers spend hours and hours playing games through endless repetition, trying over and over again to beat a tough level by slightly varying their approach - just like a successful language learner! 

My plan is to tap into what makes gamers play for hours on end. Language is fun and complex and the success of games like Scrabble, Letterpress or 4 Pics, 1 Word proves that it's possible to create an engaging and fun playing experience with language. 


  1. it's too big in scope (it's too complex, I'll never finish, I can't do it all yourself, it'll take years, it'll cost millions)
  2. don't know how to design games/code/create game assets/run a business
  3. its not (yet) clear how it'll grow from a small app to the whole enchilada 
  4. educational games are not fun - they're pigs with lipstick on - so people won't go near it
  5. gamification is a fad and already disliked by a lot of people


#1 is massive potential room for growth. I don't have to have the whole language covered from the start and can add additional content later as upgrades. These upgrades people will be willing to pay for because most learners are aware of their weaknesses and would like to strengthen them in an effective and targeted way. 

#2 True, but I've been spending 1-3 hrs every day getting up to scratch. I'm reading up on start-ups, game design textbooks and gaming industry magazines/blogs, watching dozens of courses, taking Skillshare and MOOC  courses and I can always hire talent once my MVP takes off. 

#3 Also true, but luckily the language is already here (i don't have to reinvent the wheel) and its incredibly modular. I can take literally any aspect of the English language and build a game around it that I can then integrate into the larger project. 

#4 Yes, there is a stigma that many jaded skeptics will immediately attach to my idea. Even the young crowds I'm aiming for (teens to 30-somethings) will probably associate learning with boredom/hard work. I'll have to rely on a superior gaming experience and word of mouth here.

#5 I'm not gamifying learning, I'm making a game that happens to be educational. I'm not just slapping badges on people learning vocab...


#1 Keep on learning/doing!  Mon: Unity - Tue: Game design theory - Wed: Biz  - Thu: Assets (Maya/Ps/Illustrator) - Fri: Brainstorm/plan - Sat: network - Sun: rest

#2 Find collaborators - I can't do it on my own.

#3 Start the groundwork - legal, IP, funding

#4 Build a MVP & develop long-term expansion plan (this can come at any point, not last)


  • My goal is to have either one level or a mini-game good to go that will lead to a full game through in-app purchases. The first offering will be free to get the word out. My success metric will be 5,000 free downloads.
  • I'm going to publish my app to the iOS App Store, the OS X App Store and Google Play.
  • I'm going to use Twitter and Google AdWords to get the word out, plus my contacts in the ESL industry in Japan, Europe and hopefully China/India
  • A good week-long experiment would involve getting started on both a mini game and an actual level. Once I get started, it's easy to keep's the first step that's tough.


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