Dungeons & Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game, originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. To play the game participants sit around a tabletop, with each player being assigned a character. The game takes place entirely in the collective imagination of the participants who through voice conversation should direct the actions of their character and their interactions with other characters in the game.
The game was developed in 1974 but it continues to be the best-known and best-selling role-playing game in the world. The enduring legacy of D&D can be attributed to how gaming and the power of one’s imagination can be sparked via conversation.
Voice, after all, is the most natural way for humans to interact with each other. Humans have used voice and language to communicate with each other for over a hundred thousand years. But how we communicate with our technology really hasn’t reflected that up until now.
We’ve used a variety of interfaces in our personal computing and with every paradigm shift in tech, the video game industry has not been far behind in adapting to the user’s needs. Examples include everything from the groundbreaking 80’s PC games like Prince of Persia and SimCity to mobile games such as Candy Crush and PUBG, all of which have been commercially successful as well.
All these games were on screen-based interfaces though. With the improvements in speech recognition technology (among other advancements in tech), we are in a world where we can communicate with personal computing using voice.
Voice user interfaces are the next major disruption in computing and will soon be ubiquitous – expect to use a voice interface not just at your home but also at school, in your workplace, in the supermarket, and also on-the-go.
Consumers in India are quickly adopting this new interface – thanks to its intuitiveness and simplicity the likes of which we have never seen before According to an IDC report at the end of last year, Smart-speaker penetration among English-speaking net users in India was 20.9%, the most among all the countries surveyed.
It is only a matter of time that voice gaming hits the mainstream. Voice gaming opens up new possibilities and opportunities. For starters, voice invites deeper engagement. A testament to the increased engagement is the popular ‘Choose-your-own-adventure’ sub-genre of Voice games. Yes Sire and The Magic Door are two of the world’s most popular games on Alexa.
These games create an immersive atmosphere with sound effects, different character voices and engaging stories, letting the users play out the stories in their imagination. The Chhota Bheem game is based on a similar mechanic where the player has to guide Bheem through a series of decisions to rescue Kalia in the Dholakpur caves. The game is understandably a huge hit with kids, who love interacting with voice-assistants.
Educational games directed towards kids are gaining popularity for an interesting and informative way the content is produced. Also, parents often prefer for their kids to use voice-enabled devices than screen-based devices. Currently, simple word games, science tutorials and math puzzles are trending but in the future, gamified educational content over voice will be mainstream.
Another popular sub-genre on Voice gaming is quizzing. The Jeopardy game, based on the iconic TV show, is a fan favourite. The combination of using host Alex Trebek’s voice and frequently updated content ensures customers keep coming back for more. Maybe soon Amitabh Bachchan could quiz you in a round of Kaun Banega Crorepati, while you sit in your living room!
Voice gaming also has a unique position of being able to extend a player’s agency – as a controller or an advisor. Popular console games such as Destiny 2 and Call of Duty (both are first-person shooter games with multiplayer online play) have extensions on Alexa that act as an advisor during gameplay.
With simple commands, a player can get personalized information about nearest enemies, and battle reports to improve in-game performance. Voice gaming can also bring the analog and digital realms together. A recent example is ‘When in Rome’ – a trivia-board game that makes Alexa your host. Adding a digital component to a board game opens up possibilities of dynamic content, increased interactivity and scenarios that can be updated frequently. Board and tabletop games will never be the same again.
Voice interfaces have opened up a new avenue of interacting with computing and the possibilities it brings to the gaming world are exciting, to say the least.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible and the next few years will see tremendous growth in this space as voice gaming will be the next frontier. Voice has always been in the game but what happens next is upto you.