Southern Methodist University (SMU) Guildhall, SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) have joined up and formed People ForWords to participate in the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPrize. Together they are linking their expertise in game development, education and adult literacy to build an immersive fun mobile application that will advance the Adult Literacy industry.

SMU Guildhall

SMU Guildhall is a premier graduate video game education program, ranked #1 Graduate School for Video Game Design, and first in the world to offer a Master of Interactive Technology degree. We also offer a Professional Certificate, and are the only program with specializations in all four cornerstones of video game development: Art Creation, Level Design, Production and Programming.

SMU: Simmons

The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development promotes excellence by engaging in and disseminating scientifically-based research, preparing exemplary professionals in education and human development, collaborating with other schools and institutions in the development of model programs and furthering positive learning experiences in all stages of life.

Literacy Instruction For Texas

LIFT is the only adult literacy provider in the Metroplex serving very low-literate adults. Beginning with basic phonics, our programs are designed to address the needs of many different kinds of learners.

Screen Shots

Here are samples of concept art, screen shots, and photos from the development of our XPRIZE application.

Female Adventurer

Portrait of the female main character, from sketch to final look.

Male Adventurer

Portrait of the male main character, from sketch to final look.

Library Reward Book

The library reward book, where players can learn about the places in the game.


The Codex in use, learning sight words.

Real-World Locations

View locations around the world, like the Great Sphinx in Egypt.

Atlantis Jungle

The jungle engulfs the ruins of the Great Library of Atlantis.

Codex Gameplay

A sampling of gameplay, from learning letter-sounds to reinforcing vocabulary through a hidden object game.

Atlantis Library

3D Rendering of Atlantis Library

Our Story

Here is a list of our milestones.

  • October 2015

    Starting Up

    In October, SMU Guildhall, SMU Simmons and LIFT all came together to start discussing how to participate in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

  • January 2016

    A Team is Born

    People ForWords is formed, and the development team begins ramping up.

  • March 2016

    Game Development

    Development team is assembled and technology has been selected. Game Development is now in full swing!

  • October 2016

    Closed Beta!

    Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis Closed Beta Begins.

  • December 2016


    SMU Simmons, Guildhall, and LIFT wish to acknowledge the Communities Foundation of Texas for its grant to develop People ForWords’ smartphone game for competition in the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

  • January 2017

    Pilot Testing

    Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis Pilot Testing with local literacy groups.

  • March 2017

    Final Submission!

    Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis Submitted to XPRIZE.

  • July 2017


    Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis was selected as a semifinalist for Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

  • March 2018

    Pilot Testing II

    This time we concentrated our research on native Spanish speakers wanting to learn English. "Before I was able to understand a little and I couldn't speak. But now I can speak more."

  • April 2018

    Final Submission!

    After an additional 5 months of development, Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis was submitted for the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Finals

  • June 2018


    PeopleForWords makes the finals! Our team is one of five finalists in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition. The winners will be announced January, 2019.

  • September 2018

    Google Play Feature

    Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis was featured on Google's Play Store!

Our Amazing Team

Corey Clark, Ph.D.

Development Lead

Anthony Cuevas, Ph.D.

Instructional Design

Linda K. Johnson, Ph.D.

President and CEO, LIFT

Diane Gifford, Ph.D.

Literacy Specialist

Victoria Smith


Jacqueline Gan-Glatz


Arnie Adams


Bart Holland


Chris McCrimmons


Brian Rust


Dawn Woods, Ph.D.

Education Specialist

Yolette García

Asst Dean/XPRIZE Liaison

Rukuan 'Young' Yang


Matt Saladin


Tim Ullrich


Josh Brookover


Adrian Hernandez


Rebecca Ward


Max Krembs


Brian Applegate


Stephanie Knight, Ph.D.

Dean of Simmons

Kate Hoffman

Director of Marketing and Communications LIFT

Dan Thompson

Chief Development Officer LIFT

Special Thanks

PeopleForWords would like to thank founding members, Lisa Hembry, LIFT President Emerita, and Dr. David Chard, former dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, for starting our collaboration, and getting us to compete for The Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE Prize.

Lisa Hembry

LIFT President Emerita

David Chard, Ph.D.

Former Dean of SMU's Simmons School of Education and Human Development

Contact Us

Have questions? Want to get involved?