Revitalizing Viena Karelian dialect and culture with gamification

Revitalizing Viena Karelian dialect by finding new ways of learning and teaching Karelian culture and language is important. Karelian is a Finnic language and it is the closest linguistic relative to Finnish. It is spoken in Finland and Russia and its dialects must not be mixed up with Karelian (south-eastern) dialects of Finnish. It is estimated that there are approximately 5,000 speakers of Karelian language in Finland and about 20,000 persons can understand it to some extent. According to the 2002 census, there are approximately 53,000 Karelian speakers in Russia. In both countries, speakers are mainly elderly. Therefore, the gamification approach was used to design and develop an educational game from non-gaming contexts for aiming to prevent language or its dialects extinction. In this study, a ”Let’s Learn Karelian” game prototype was designed for learning Viena Karelian dialect where English and Finnish users can use it and learn in a fun and effective way. A non functional prototype was developed with the Microsoft PowerPoint in a mobile context to get preliminary feedback from users. A relatively small user experience study with five participants was conducted in the early phase of development at the University of Oulu. Based on the feedback, the game prototype was perceived as visually pleasant, creative, easy to use, playful and entertaining. This paper also briefly introduces our new functional ”Learn Viena Karelian” prototype. According to our findings there is a need to develop various games for revitalizing Viena Karelian dialect and culture.