The Project

The Actors Challenge is the creation of a group of researchers interested in new and more engaging ways to collect data in science, in the tradition of “Serious Games” or "Games with a Purpose" (GWAPs). In this case, the purpose is to achieve a better understanding of prosody, the way we modulate speech. Prosody is one of the ways humans convey meanings in language: the way we say things conveys our attitudes, emotions, what we focus on, what we really intend, and many other subtleties.

Professional actors and readers learn this skill as part of their training. Our challenge comes from a test attibuted by the linguist Roman Jackobson to the Stanislavski Method: actors trained in the method handed out to an audience a list of 40 situations, then went on stage and uttered the words Cevodnia vecheram ‘tonight’ 40 times. From the way the words were pronounced the people in the audience were supposedly able to assign each utterance to the right situation.

By participating in the game you contribute to the advancement of linguistic science. The data collected through the game will be made publicly available in anonymous form, and will contribute to the aswer of questions such as:

  • Which aspect of meaning can and cannot be reliably conveyed through intonation?
  • Are there multiple ways to convey meanings through intonation? Are they all equally recognizable? Do they vary across speakers?
  • To what degree intonation varies across regional varieties of the same language, and across languages?
  • Can people be good at acting but bad at casting? Vice-versa?

The fact that the words remain the same in our experiment allows us to separate the effect of intonation from any other factor.

The data collected here can also contribute to more natural-sounding text-to-speech synthesis, or to voice-recognition software which is better at detecting the intention and the attitudes of the speakers. For further info, see the scientific paper “Chaiko, N, Sepanta, S. and Zamparelli, R. (2022) The Actors Challenge Project.

This project is no-profit, and its realization was made possible by the Italian PRIN 2015 Grant “TREiL” and by the Center for Mind/Brain Science (CIMEC) at the University of Trento, Italy.

Please leave your feedback by sending an email to

We are a small group, so we are always looking for ways to improve the game but we may not be able to respond directly to all your questions or requests. We apologise for this in advance.

The AC team:

  • Natallia Chaiko
  • Sia Vosh Sepanta
  • Roberto Zamparelli
  • Giampiero Benvenuti

Data and translations by:

  • Sia Vosh Sepanta
  • Roberto Zamparelli