Adult Literacy XPRIZE


Southern Methodist University (SMU) Simmons School of Education and Human Development, SMU Guildhall, and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) formed the People ForWords team to participate in the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition. Together, we are building on our expertise in game development, education and adult literacy to create an immersive, fun mobile application that will help adults learn to read. We are very proud that the PeopleForWords Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis (LWoA) App was selected by XPRIZE to participate in the Adult Literacy Communities Competition. Our entire team is committed to helping adults learn to read through our work with educators, adult literacy groups, and directly with learners.

About the Codex App

The Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis (LWoA) App is an adventure game that helps individuals learn to read in a game-based learning environment. Adult literacy instructional elements are positioned in the context of a compelling game storyline so learners solve challenges or help game characters as they learn to read. The core gameplay revolves around crafting English phonemes, onset-rime patterns, and sight words to “decode” an ancient alien language. The player uses a computer tablet (codex) that was found in his or her attic to translate alien letter/words from the lost city of Atlantis into English pronunciation sounds. The player builds phonemes and words using the codex translation to unlock secret locations inside major archeological sites around the world as they discover the secrets hidden at Atlantis. Each site a player visits is based upon a real world location.  After completing each location, a player will see the gameplay world transform with images of real locations. This game feature helps keep the users engaged in progressing further in the game as it also helps them see and learn more about real world areas outside their current city. As the player goes to each location, they are presented with new artifacts to decode. As the Codex translates each artifact, it helps the player understand the ancient language and unlock the next set of doors to progress in the game. Instructions are available in English or Spanish to support learners.

How to Get Started

We hope you enjoy using our App. We are committed to continuing to improve our App to provide the most benefit to adults in their journey to learn to read. 

  • App Name as it appears in Google Play Store: Codex Lost Words of Atlantis (Beta)

-- How to INSTALL the Codex App from the Google Play Store: To begin using the People ForWords Codex App, please watch the video below that walks you through the steps to install the Codex App from the Google Play store and use the links below the video to get started. 


-- For a “big picture” overview of gameplay elements:

PDF Instructions for Student Self-Enrollment

Who to Contact for Help

Dr. Tony Cuevas

Please contact Dr. Tony Cuevas ( or 214-768-4848 for questions about the Codex app as you prepare for and participate in the Communities Competition.

In-game support

The game begins with support in the form of guidance for the learner that decreases as they demonstrate mastery of basic literacy skills. Players identify letter sounds, CVC patterns, and sight words to solve mysteries of Atlantis. They progress to reading words and sentences in the context of the gameplay. The player is a novice archaeologist who uncovers evidence of an ancient civilization among his or her (player selects to play as male or female) grandparent’s belongings stored in an attic. Using this knowledge, the player travels to the cities around the world to uncover the secrets of the lost civilization of Atlantis.

The initial gameplay focuses on Egypt, Atlantis and Australia. Instructions are provided in English or Spanish to support English speakers and English Language Learners.  Help is available throughout the game in the form of audio guidance. In addition, players are able to request help from more advanced players at key points in the game through the social networking feature. Players who successfully complete level 6 have the option of connecting with other players to provide help through voice chat. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Where do you find information on the Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis (LWoA) Adult Literacy App? 

  2. What Operating System (OS) does it run on?
    - Android 4.4 or higher (Note: Codex does not currently run on iOS)

  3. How much does the Codex App cost? 
    - Codex: LWoA is FREE on the Google Play Store

  4. How much storage space is required to install and run the Codex: LWoA App?
    - 350MB is currently required to install and run the Codex App, but we recommend 500MB free space to allow for updates scheduled to occur over the coming months.

  5. How do you install Codex?
    - Refer to Tutorial video above at:

  6. What type of account do you need to play?
    - All users need is a Google ID to play Codex (For information on how to create a Google Account, refer to

  7. Will the account be the same after the end of the Communities Competition and will all data be saved for continued use after August 2019?
    - Codex is a Free app, and users will be able to maintain their account and pick up where they left off as long as they continue to use the same Google ID. Codex user accounts are based on their Google ID and there will be no loss of information or access to the app at the end of the Communities Competition. Users keep their account and data as long as they maintain the same Google ID and do not uninstall/reinstall the app.