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A video game which can teach you learning foreign language when you're playing!

Legend of Mei


The Legend of Mei: The Last Linguist is an interactive Kinect-based fitness and language-learning video game that teaches players Chinese vocabulary and requires them to exercise as they play. In this game, players will use their physical interactions in the real world (jumping, running, and swiping) to control the actions of Mei, the game’s protagonist, who is an Avatar capable of bending air, water, and fire.

The prototype that we implemented consisted of a game designed in Unity, combined with “Wizard-Of-Oz” the detection of running, jumping and swiping for movement and interaction in the game. All graphic design is original.

The prototype involved a tutorial section, which acquainted the users with how to move throughout the level and how to perform attacks on the enemies, and then a gameplay section in which the users were required to use what they learned in the tutorial and apply it to progressing through the gameplay level. The sections of the tutorial were: (1) learning how to run to move the player, (2) learning how to jump to avoid rocks, and (3) learning how to interact with the power controller to defeat the enemies.


Design Space

The objective is to develop a language learning application that can be integrated into the user’s daily routine. In general, exercise has been found to be linked with improved cognition. Furthermore, there has been evidence that if you practice close to the time that you workout, then you will have improved learning outcomes. We are focusing on coupling learning a foreign language with exercise. This application targets those users who are limited on time, but are looking for a way to broaden their linguistic horizons.



Team members (4 persons) sat together and generated ideas from different perspectives related to the design spaces. After generated a bunch of ideas, we initially generated four categories (Health, Games, Sensors and Social networking).Afterward we found that these four categories were oversimplified that we still couldn’t figure out which three ideas we could pick up, so we categorized our ideas based on their highlighted features. In the end, Twister game, Video game and Equipment stood out. After brainstorming session, we narrowed our about 50+ ideas down to three final ideas. We chose this three ideas because we thought they were innovative and interesting.

Idea Development

After brainstorming session, we developed specific ideas based on the 3 directions we chose in the last step. We generated 3 product ideas including logos, features and scenarios. Then we designed the LO-FI prototypes and thought about storyboards that how these products could be implemented in daily lives. Then we analyzed the strength and weakness of each product. After discussion, we decided to continue working on the video game idea. 

Design Alternative 1

Player receives the following instructions: Use the right hand to select the right word in English. Use the left foot to select the correct definition in Chinese.

The word is Wrist Watch, whose definition in Chinese is showing on the right of the screen.

Player would have to find the correct word tile and definition tile on the mat by using his hand and foot.

If player select the correct answer, he will gain scores in this game.

Design Alternative 2

The gamer needs to do the correct movement to match the description on the screen. 

Along the way the wearable device will be tracing the heart beat rate of the user, getting them to an optimal level for their language learning experience.

The player must complete the levels in the language game. Games might include: speed matching with some movement, copycat of a monster at the end of a level, bargaining with a boss in the other languages, etc.

Design Alternative 3

Link up with a workout buddy.

Set the number of rounds that will be completed -> it will show how far through the language lessons you will get based on the rounds. Begin working out with partners, alternating on the gym equipment and mobile device.

after completing all rounds, you and your workout buddy will take final tests. The loser will have to do more excersice.


This video will demonstrate how this video game prototype works.


The user was given about 7 minutes to interact with the system, which included the short tutorial (described in the overview above). They learned how to run, jump and swipe during the tutorial, which the participant then applied in the game play. During this process, the main evaluation technique used was observational notetaking.

The tasks that we focused our attention to during the observations were:

  • Running through game

  • Jumping correctly through the game

  • Attacking the enemies correctly

  • Attacking Fish with Fire

  • Attacking Dragons with Water

  • Attacking Birds with Wind

After the user completed the game play we gave them a short test matching the Chinese character with the icon for the power or image of the enemy, and identifying the audio of the Chinese word that matched with the Chinese character.

Since the prototype was still in its infancy, the data we gleaned from this was not as valuable as the other parts of the evaluation. It did however, highlight some basic needs that we still needed to fill.

Learning Dynamic

Visual & Audio


+ Most of the interviewers think it's helpful for learning Chinese.

+ Average rating 7/10

- Only a few words to learn

- Tasks are too easy

+ Most of the interviewers think the control gestures make sense and they're not hard to learn.

+ Average rating 8/10


-Limitation of types of gesture.


+ Most of the interviewers think overall the virtual and audio are appropriate.

+ The symbols are big and legible.

+ Average rating 6/10.


- The volume of audio is very low.

“Killing the dragon was the easiest because it didn’t fly like the birds or fish. Using the water kill the dragon made a lot of think of a fire-breathing dragon, water could be a weakness.”   

“It’s a nice warm-up for a workout, but I wouldn’t use this primarily to workout. Maybe if there were more difficulty levels or something like that…”

“If you guys really go forward with this, it would be cool see the powers evolve or the enemies get stronger. I also think you should be able to customize the gestures to choose power. Like, what if I made a fireball with my hands instead of just swiping to on that controller.”


“Running in place and swiping was a little hard (laughs). There should be a way to throttle the speed so you can run slower in real life but faster in the game.”


Quotes From Evaluation

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