Voice for Games
Continuing the series in which we brainstorm new applications of chatbot technology, today we look at games. Voice can not only make some parts of existing games more efficient, it can also enable new types of gameplay.
There is no doubt that voice will be important for virtual reality (VR) and gaming. In everyday life, we do things with our hands and bodies, but more importantly, we do things with our voices (through communication). It doesn’t make sense that verbal communication would not be an important part of the VR and gaming experience.
It’s a bit more obvious for VR since it is designed to be a full-body immersive experience. By definition, the experience has a gesture interface to allow humans to communicate with the software through gestures. These could be natural gestures i.e. natural movements that the software uses to simulate reality, or these could be unnatural movements to do specific things, like swiping in the air to select different options.
The fact is that a purely graphical interface is very limiting. Even for the simple use case of selecting options, it is much quicker for the gamer to say the following then go through the application to find and refine selections:
“I want bulletproof armour, green color, and a high powered gun with turbo mode”.
Within the game, voice can enable rapid switching between options that would be faster than screen-based switching, such as the example given above.
Voice, however, can open up a whole new world for games by explicitly being designed to be part of the game.
One idea for voice to be part of the game is using voice for coordination. This mimics real life as people coordinate with each other primarily through voice.
Coordination in the game could be with other characters or with different types of machines.
Imagine a first-person shooter game, except this time the shooter is the leader of a team of shooters. Not only do they need to look after themselves, but they need to coordinate the team to win the game. Here are some potential snippets of dialogue:
Player: “Jones, clear first floor”
Player: “Smith, check the basement”
Jones: “Encountered heavy fire, first floor, southwest side. Need backup”
Player: “McDonald and Robbins, head to the first floor to support Jones”
The above could apply to any kind of gaming, not just VR. Voice will allow team coordination in ways that are not possible right now.
Even a soccer game could benefit from the player giving instructions to other players to influence the strategy of the game. For example:
“One two” could instruct the player that you are passing the ball to pass it back to you immediately. Players could set up voice commands (codes) to elicit specific behaviour from teammates.
Of course, gaming is normally associated with video games, but voice could enhance or enable any type of game.
There are already many examples of games on Alexa or Google Home such as quiz games or twenty question style games. New types of games will become possible and the smoothness of the experience (and therefore the fun in playing) will improve as voice technology gets better.
Of course, the improvement in the games will also come from an improvement in AI capabilities. For example, it's easy to imagine a machine playing “I spy” with a child on a car trip which would be a combination of voice and image recognition technology.
Another use case for voice is coordination with robots in the real world as part of a game. One example might be a chatbot for drones that allows the drones to function as part of the game. In a similar way to the shooter game described above, drones could assist a player in laser tag. The player could say things like the following:
“Scan for hostiles in my immediate area”
“Approach hostile behind wall from behind and shoot”
It’s also easy to imagine a kind of ball game where robots might shoot a ball to a player on instruction (in this case the player wears a mic) or one player might instruct the ball to roll to another player.
Hopefully, this discussion of voice for games stimulates your imagination in this area and about what the impact of voice technology will be in the future.