Games and smart speakers is probably the combination all but a few have in mind, and yet that is exactly what Google is now trying to push for its Google Home speaker. Forget whatever preconceived notion you might have about computer games. There are no fancy graphics here, not even 8-bit ones. There are no joysticks or gamepads either. Since Google Home is simply a speaker that accepts voice inputs, that exactly the only thing you can use. In short, Google Home gaming will all be about text adventure games, only delivered through audio instead of readable text.
Retro gaming is a small but thriving market but it has nothing on this ultimate throwback to the earliest days of computer gaming. Back in the days when computer screens couldn’t even display satisfactory graphics. gamers had to content themselves with reading walls of text and using their imagination. Think of it like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except with a bit more interactivity.
That is the type of gaming that Google wants to bring to the Home speaker, but with some modern twists. First, the term “text-based adventure games” is so last decade. It’s called “interactive fiction” (IF) nowadays. Secondly, you won’t have to read walls of text anymore. You’ll just have to listen to them. It’s radio drama meets interactive fiction, basically.
To make that possible, Google is rolling out a few new features. One of those is a library of sound effects these game developers can use for crafting their fiction. From airplanes passing by to terrifying thunder, the library will bring much-needed life to an otherwise plain delivery. Secondly, Google is adding some Actions on Google so that developers will be able to teach Google Assistant how to respond to instructions like “go north” or “open door” or, perhaps the most popular command of all, “get lamp”.
Google says it’s quite excited about the gamin potential of Google Home and, by extension, Google Assistant. Indeed, it’s an interesting twist of a classic type of gaming. But just as text-based adventures these days are considered more as a niche and a historical artifact, don’t expect IF on Google Home to be the next WoW.