Summary: How effective are puzzle games on a voice first platform? A recent review of the Escape the Room skill on Amazon Alexa shows that some problem solving games, which typically rely on visual clues, can be effectively transitioned to a voice only environment. Does this discovery offer any insights for authors of voice first fiction?
This week CNET published an article by Andrew Gebhart, a reviewer of modern appliances and a self-proclaimed fan of escape rooms. Gebhart was curious about the effectiveness of the Amazon Alexa skill Escape the Room by Stoked Skills LLC.
To Gebhart’s surprise, he found the available escape room experiences in the Stoked Skills game compelling enough to recommend them to friends. He noted various small frustrations with the voice-only experience. These include awkwardness in the way a user is forced to provide instructions to Alexa. But overall, Gebhart enjoyed the same emotional charge from the free voice first game, that he pays large sums to experience in real live escape rooms.
The challenge for writers of traditional fiction is to discover new, but intuitive, ways to invite readers to interact with a story. The default model for interactive fiction is the branching narrative. A user is asked to choose between two or more paths to drive the story in a different direction.
Puzzle solving offers another interaction model that hasn’t been as widely explored. An example of embedding puzzles into a voice first story might include requiring readers to solve a puzzle, before they can advance to the next chapter.
As we saw last week in the post about the voice first Westworld adventure, a memory challenge acts as a type of puzzle the reader must solve, before they can reach the next level and the new adventures that await.
When we think of puzzles, we often imagine something that relies heavily on visual elements. But many types of problem solving games lend themselves well to a voice first (and voice only) platform. It makes sense for authors of voice first fiction to explore how they can include puzzles, riddles, and other problem solving games into a story experience to increase user engagement.
Photo credit: Escape room photo from Paniq Escape Room Franchise