Summary: As more independent companies and creators release voice apps (skills, actions) on voice assistant platforms, the trend towards producing “games” is emerging. Games are one of the most popular categories for voice-driven, interactive skills.
Writing fiction for a voice first platform brings up an immediate dilemma. How do you take advantage of the technologies of the voice-driven platform, but still maintain the fundamental nature of narrative and storytelling?
As soon as you begin to design voice first fiction, you have to decide what to do with your audience’s input. Instead of just reading your words or hearing them spoken, your audience can talk back.
The need to include an interactive element in your fiction generally leads authors / designers to invite the audience to do one or more of the following:
Interestingly, adding any of the above elements to your story, transforms it into something that people are currently referring to as a “game.”
There may be a problem with this new terminology. My worry is that people who enjoy stories, and who might be the perfect audience for voice first fiction, are not looking for games. There’s now an entire category of story-inspired experiences, that a majority of people will never discover, because they skip over the “Games, Trivia & Accessories” category.
Linear stories (“traditional” stories?) don’t rely on or expect any user involvement, other than the user deciding whether to turn the page or put the book down. While this level of involvement may seem minimal compared to interactive fiction, it’s obviously very fundamental.
Linear narrative relies on the dramatic tension created by the story arc. At this point in the blog post, I can’t help but link to the lectures given by Kurt Vonnegut, in which he explains the handful of classic graphs inspiring every great story ever conceived by humans.
How do traditional stories fit into the framework of voice-driven “games”? And maybe more importantly, do we need a whole new category to describe conversational story experiences?
The bottomline: How do we transition the tried and true joys of consuming fictional stories with the new abilities offered by voice-driven, speech-enabled devices? It’s a question we’ll continue to explore.