Voice control is becoming a mainstay in our lives. We can find voice technology in our cars, smart fridges, wearable devices, and even award-winning video games.
Like virtual reality (VR), voice control in gaming offers an immersive and streamlined experience. Voice-controlled games often focus on real-time decision-making and strategy. Using their voice, players direct troops or interact with non-playable characters within the game. Other games rely on storytelling and offer choose-your-own-adventure gameplay. Voice-controlled games are especially important for accessibility, allowing people with limited motor ability or impaired vision to get in on the fun.
There’s a long history of voice control in gaming, but a few major games have helped put the technology on the map. One of the most well-known voice-controlled games is Hey You, Pikachu! from Nintendo, released in 2000. In the game, players used a voice device to befriend and speak to the Pokémon. The game used a library of 256 voice commands to communicate and play with Pikachu. Another early voice-controlled game was Tom Clancy’s EndWar, a real-time tactics game where players used a headset to control their troops.
Voice recognition vs. speech recognition
While voice recognition and speech recognition may seem like synonyms, they aren’t quite the same. Speech recognition software determines what words were spoken, while voice recognition software understands who said the words. To illustrate, voice recognition is the reason Alexa knows to play Biggie and Tupac when you ask her to “play my 90’s playlist” instead of your partner’s mix of NSYNC, TLC, and Hanson.
Speech recognition is the technology that makes voice-controlled games possible. The software takes your voice commands and converts that speech into something a computer can understand. Then the software analyzes your meaning. Using algorithms, the computer is usually able to get close to what you actually said. When you factor in slang, accents, or unique phrasing, speech recognition can get tricky.
Unlike clicking a mouse or pressing a controller button, voice-controlled games need time to process so the computer can understand and complete the command. This data may not even be processed on your device, but at a data center. A super-speedy internet connection is a must-have for voice-controlled games.
Voice control games
Many games have elements of voice control, like the VR game Star Trek: Bridge Crew. Some games use smart assistants like Alexa or Google to complete voice commands. Fully voice-controlled games are a little rarer. That’s because the technology isn’t quite there yet.
Despite the advancements in technology, many voice-controlled games have limited functionality. They can also be frustrating for players if the voice command is misunderstood or doesn’t even register due to an accent or speech disability.
As AI and machine learning continue to develop, you will likely see more sophisticated voice-controlled games. For now, check out these voice recognition games:
In Bot Colony, Nakagawa Corp., a Japanese company specializing in robot manufacturing, has asked for your help. Their robots are acting strangely, and you must speak to them to understand what is going on at Bot Colony. The key to the game is successful communication. You won’t have to choose from dialogue options – the game even supports off-topic conversations. Bot Colony is a PC game and you can find it on Steam.
Starfinder is a voice-controlled game you can play with your Alexa device. This multi-part, interactive audio game that reimagines a card-based roleplaying game is a choose-your-own-adventure-styled game set in a space station. You can play it on any Alexa-enabled device, including the mobile app.
In Radio General, you are a WWII general directing your troops with just a radio and a map. The game is a real-time strategy game where you must maneuver your units via verbal orders. You also receive intel over your radio and must make tough decisions based on the reports you receive. You can play Radio General on a PC or Mac.
If you like trivia and driving, Drive.fm is the voice-controlled game for you. Don’t worry – there’s no screen and the game is completely hands-free. Drive.fm is interactive and offers a few different ways to test your smarts, from naming songs, to taking quizzes, to answering questions from Alex Trebek on America’s Favorite Quiz Show®. To play the game, you need to download the app to your smart device.
As the medieval lord of a realm, you must keep the kingdom running in Yes, Sire, a voice-controlled game that uses Alexa. You’ll have to make some difficult choices to appease your king, the peasants you rule, and the nobility surrounding you. Hopefully, you don’t lose your head!
Adding your own voice control to games
Since many games don’t offer voice control yet, you can always add a piece of software to your favorite games to modify your experience and add voice commands. With tools like VoiceBot and VoiceAttack, you can create voice commands. The software takes voice input and converts it into action on the keyboard or mouse for a PC game. You may need a little bit of coding knowledge to create custom macros to execute your voice commands.
The future of voice control in gaming
Voice control offers many opportunities for the gaming industry, including the option to make games more immersive and accessible than ever before. Amazon is already offering documentation for developers that want to make voice-controlled games using Alexa, and they have a surprisingly large library of voice-controlled games. Companies like Pretzel Labs only develop voice-controlled games. It’s clear that voice isn’t going anywhere; we just have to wait for the technology to catch up for the truly immersive experiences.
Do you play voice-controlled games? Tell us which ones you love in the comments!