The world of video games is always evolving; graphics are updated, stories become more sophisticated, and new technologies are constantly being developed. But one aspect of gaming appears to have a shorter history than others; voice-controlled gaming. While there have been breakout games in this area, the pool is still relatively shallow. But this might be about to change. Let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of voice-activated games and what this can mean for children and their Executive Functioning skills.
Voice dictation has been a way for students who struggle with standard typing to get their thoughts down on paper in a manner that assists with their organization of ideas. Students who struggle with Working Memory, the ability to keep information in one’s mind while completing a task, can prove difficult when trying to gather one’s thoughts and simultaneously place them into words. But does this translate to video games? Memorizing controls for various games can be complicated, and the introduction of voice commands could be a way for children to control their characters more effectively than they would with controller-based commands.
It is clear that this field has much more potential and room for growth. However, if you would like to experiment with this genre, here are three voice-operated games from the past, present, and one coming to us in the near future!
The Past: Hey You, Pikachu!
Hey You, Pikachu was released in America on the Nintendo 64 in 2000. Although it was not the only voice-activated game of the time, it was unique in that it used the extremely popular Pokemon franchise. Hey You, Pikachu is a game where you are working with the cute yellow Pokemon in order to complete various tasks. You accomplish this by talking with Pikachu by issuing voice commands through a microphone. Pikachu understood up to 200 different words, including Thunderbolt, Dance, Thank You, and Let’s Play! While Hey You, Pikachu was the only voice-operated game released for the Nintendo 64 in America, it paved the way for other games in the future. If you have a Nintendo 64 gathering dust somewhere in your house, you can still find copies of the game and befriend your very own Pikachu!
The Present: Chicken Scream
Mobile games have been able to take advantage of the built-in microphone on your cell to create voice-activated challenges. One of the most entertaining is a game called Chicken Scream, released in 2017. This is a game where the player guides a pixel-y chicken through obstacles by using their voice instead of a controller. However, instead of issuing commands to the chicken, the level of your voice is what determines their actions. If you speak or sing softly, the chicken will walk along normally. However, if you raise your voice enough, it will cause the chicken to jump, missing pitfalls, spiky obstacles, etc. The sensitivity of the microphone can be adjusted too just in case the idea of screaming children from another room in your house is not an appealing thought. This writer found that singing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was very helpful in maintaining a flow that allowed for greater control. Chicken Scream is available for the iPhone and the iPad now.
The Future: One Hand Clapping
One Hand Clapping is a game that is slated to be released this year but with no official date at this time. The player uses their voice to control the main character and the environment in which they are placed. They do this through singing. The player will also use their singing voice to solve various puzzles, an advancement that could pave the way for other voice-operated games in the future. The game is slated to be released through the Steam store and the Nintendo Switch, but it is unclear if a mobile version of the game will be available.
Do you have any voice-controlled games that you and your family love to play? Share them with us in the comments below!