As smart assistants become more popular, developers are finding new ways to use the AIs for entertainment purposes. Interactive audio adventures, for example, let owners take part in a story by using just their voice. Now, the BBC is about to release its first interactive voice-controlled drama for Alexa.
The Inspection Chamber is a sci-fi comedy-drama where listeners can essentially take control of a character and influence the plot.
The project has its roots in Gamebooks, or Choose Your Own Adventure books, which were popular in the 1970s and 1980s. But the BBC says The Inspection Chamber is much more advanced; not only does it use modern tech, but it also allows players more interaction, giving them an active part to play in the story. Computer games The Stanley Parable and Papa Sangre, along with authors Franz Kafka and Douglas Adams, are named as inspirations.
The BBC worked alongside audio production company Rosina Sound to create The Inspection Chamber. The story begins by introducing a computer called Dave, who explains that two scientists are about to inspect the listeners’ character to determine what kind of creature it is. The answers will affect the plot, which has multiple endings.
“The Inspection Chamber is an experimental first step using this emerging medium. It enables listeners to take part and interact in a way they never have before,” said George Wright, head of Internet Research and Future Services for BBC R&D. “They’re not just a listener anymore – they have an active role in the story, playing the fourth character in a radio play which puts them in the heart of the action.
The BBC will initially be releasing the Inspection Chamber for Amazon Alexa devices, though it will likely expand to other platforms.
There are already voice-controlled interactive stories available on Alexa, including Runescape: One Piercing Note, which is based on a single quest from the original MMORPG, and The Magic Door.
The Inspection Chamber will soon be available from the Amazon Alexa skills store and BBC Taster website.