Asst. Prof. Chris Holden
Asst. Prof. Julie Sykes
Spanish 202, Fall 2009 – present

Mentira, a project launched in July 2009, is the first mobile, place-based, augmented reality game explicitly oriented towards the development of language skills in Spanish. It is set in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood in Albuquerque, NM and plays out much like a historical novel in which fact and fiction combine to set the context and social conditions for meaningful interaction (in Spanish) with simulated characters, other players, and local citizens. While playing Mentira, learners must investigate clues and talk to various non-player characters (NPCs) in order to absolve their own family, proving they are not responsible for a murder in a local neighborhood. In a core component of the game, players are required to visit the local neighborhood in order to collect additional clues and, ultimately, solve the mystery by determining the responsible party.


Project homepage



Daily Lobo – UNM honors professor Chris Holden takes education from classroom to students’ smartphones, starts with Spanish courses

International Association for Language Learning Technology – Language Learning Technology Review

MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning – The Magic of Going Mobile: Augmented Reality, Design Thinking and the Power of Place

UNM Today – Augmented Reality Enhances Learning

UNM Language Learning Center Annual Report 2011-2012 – Mentira

MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning – Make Your Own “Place-Based” Mobile Games

Innovation with Educational Technology – Educational Gaming Workshop @ SEU

Educause Review Online – Mobile Learning Environments

iPad Curriculum – ARIS

The Chronicle of Higher Education – ‘Augmented Reality’ on Smartphones Brings Teaching Down to Earth

MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning – Prototyping Our Way to Reforming Education

ESL – mLearning in ESL


Holden, C. & Sykes, J.; Place-based Mobile Games for Pragmatics Learning; In, Technology in Interlanguage Pragmatics Research and Teaching, Taguchi, N. & Sykes, J. (Eds.). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing.

Holden, C. & Sykes, J.; Mentira: A place-based mobile game for language learning; In Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning: Methods, Models and Strategies, Baek, Y. and Whitton, N. (Eds.); IGI Global

Holden, C. & Sykes, J.; Mentira – Prototyping Language-based locative gameplay; In Mobile Media Learning: Amazing Uses of Mobile Devices for Learning; Dikkers, S., Martin, J., and Coulter, B.. ETC Press, 2012.

Holden, C. L., & Sykes, J. M.; Leveraging Mobile Games for Place-Based Language Learning; International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL); 1(2); 1-18; 2011.

Sykes, J. & Holden, C.; Communities: Exploring digital games and social networking; In L. Ducate and N. Arnold, CALICO Monograph, 2011.

Conference Presentations

Community Engagement: Leveraging Place-Based Mobile Games for L2 Teaching and Learning. American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese Annual Conference. San Juan, PR. July, 2012.

Digital Games for Second Language Acquisition: Opportunities and Future Directions. American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Denver, CO. November, 2011.

Leveraging Mobile Games for Place-based Learning; Games, Learning and Society Conference; Madison, WI; June, 2010.

Mentira: Mobile Place-based Games and Language Learning; Success in the Classroom: Sharing Practices that Work; OSET, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, February 2010.

Creating New Contexts: Augmented Reality Mobile Games for Language Learning; 31st Annual Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association, Albuquerque, NM, February 2010.

Place-Based Mobile Games for Language Acquisition: Engaging Learners as Designers; EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) 2010 Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, January 2010.

Innovative Technologies and L2 Curricula: Immersive Gaming and Mobile Environments; 43rd Annual Meeting and Exposition, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). San Diego, CA, November 2009.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Developing Place-Based, Augmented Reality Games for Language Learning; Games, Learning, and Society 5.0, Madison, WI, presentation June 2009.

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