Our Speakers & Talks
A New Way to Play - Welcome to Voice In Games
Ben Ackland, Web App Services
A few years ago Siri and Alexa didn't exist - they weren't even part of our vocabulary; Today hundreds of millions of people worldwide talk to these personal assistants on a daily basis. We believe Voice in Games is set to follow a similar trajectory - we’re on the cusp of talking to game characters.
This keynote offers an insight into using voice, conversational AI and computer-generated speech as a new way of exploring and interacting with games, their characters and worlds. From past challenges to new solutions, accessibility to privacy; Ben will introduce creators and developers to this new technology, and give strategic thinkers the opportunity to learn why they should be at the forefront of this gaming revolution.
Ben Ackland is a creative technologist and chief technology officer at Web App Services, the driving force behind We Speak Games. His current projects are supported by Creative UK, ERDF and the UK Government.
Ben has 13 years' experience as a software consultant, delivering solutions for web and mobile with a commitment to making technology work for people. He has previously spoken at Digital Dragons, Voice of Gaming, and AI Summit London, after prototyping his own voice-first conversational AI game.
First Person Talker: 5 rules for a new voice-led genre
Thomas Keane, Godolphin Games
Voice is radically under explored in the world of gaming. As a result, designers have very little established wisdom to draw on when making voice-controlled games. This talk will begin to bridge that gap – sharing learnings from the development of “Unknown Number: A First Person Talker”.
Covering topics such as voice-led puzzle design, narrative frameworks, and interface optimisation, this talk focuses on making voice-controlled games more intuitive and, most importantly, more fun to play. Because it’s only when our games are fun that the voice in gaming revolution can truly begin!
Thomas Keane is Creative Director of Godolphin Games – an indie studio devoted to exploring 'unlikely' gameplay mechanics. Their first voice-controlled game, “Unknown Number: A First Person Talker”, has received coverage from more than 50 different media outlets including a feature in EDGE magazine. It was also awarded “Narrative Excellence” at the London Games Festival 2022.
As well as making his own games, Thomas has worked with some of the world’s biggest tech brands, from Xbox to Microsoft, Intel to Amazon; including a series of multi-award-winning alternate reality games promoting legendary titles such as “Halo” and “Tomb Raider”.
Lessons learnt building voice games for Alexa
Chris Woolcott, Chris Castle Inc.
Amazon's personal assistant, Alexa, now has over 100,000 skills - and voice games are by far the most popular category. As mainstream gaming starts to leverage voice, we'll learn more about a platform where they are already well-established.
This talk takes us on the journey of design, creation and release of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Space Bones on Alexa. Discover how lessons learnt during the development of this voice-first, outer-space pirate ship adventure helped shape Chris' second game, American Band; a first of it's kind, voice-only rockstar simulation where you have 30 days to write songs, play gigs, and become the greatest band of all time!
Chris Woolcott has a degree in Art, Graphic Design, Computer Science and has been at the forefront of software development for over two decades. He is president of Chris Castle, Inc - the brains behind the Space Bones and American Band voice games - and an instructor to the next generation of software developers at the University of Toronto.
A little over a year after the release of Space Bones, it has accumulated almost 7k in unique users, 30k in game sessions, and received more than 500,000 player voice commands (aka utterances). Prior to developing Alexa skills Chris was voted “Most Impactful” First Class Developer in the Samsung Bixby Voice Developer Showcase.
Personality design, interaction goals, and voice
Rui Teimao & Simon Nagel
Accenture Song Conversation Design Hub
In this session, Rui and Simon will describe their work within Accenture Song's Conversation Design Hub, and share some of their design methodology - specifically how it relates to voice design.
One of the unique elements of their research is Personality Design for conversational agents; especially how this can contribute to suspension of disbelief, and enhance a user/player's relationship with the experience. This talk will delve deeper into how we think about developing personalities, and how they fit with our interaction goals.
About Rui and Simon
Rui Teimao is Conversation Design Lead and Simon Nagel is a Conversation Designer at Accenture Song's Conversation Design Hub. The hub conducts research which informs a methodology; this learning is then applied to client work for some of the world's most impactful organisations, including The Times and H&M Foundation.
Simon has previously worked on Samsung's Bixby voice assistant and writes for TV and film. Rui led conversation design at Lloyds Banking Group and founded an Alexa development agency. When they're not working Simon writes books and comics, Rui writes music.
Voice For Accessibility in Mainstream Gaming - A Success Story
Nomi Gallagher, SpecialEffect Charity
Nobody likes being left out - which is why the charity SpecialEffect are levelling the video game playing field for people with disabilities; using solutions ranging from eye-tracking sensors to voice-controlled gaming. It's life-transforming work that's bringing families and friends together, and has a profoundly positive impact on quality of life.
Nomi will discuss the importance of accessibility in games, and how SpecialEffect help gamers with physical challenges play to the very best of their individual abilities. She will share a case study on how customised voice control commands helped Helen play her favourite game, RuneScape, when nerve pain started impacting her gaming.
Nomi Gallagher has been a Specialist Occupational Therapist at SpecialEffect for nearly seven years. She helps the gaming charity transform the lives of those with physical disabilities through the innovative use of cutting-edge technology.
SpecialEffect create bespoke control setups for hundreds of individuals each year. Their team collaborate directly with hardware and software developers, and were one of the partners involved in developing Xbox's Adaptive Controller hardware interface. In March 2018 SpecialEffect's founder, Mick Donegan MBE, was presented with an Xbox-sponsored award at GDC (Game Developers Conference) in recognition of the Charity’s global success in 'Bringing Gaming to Everyone.'
Voice in Gaming: Past, Present and Future
Isaac Prior, Gamer Extraordinaire
A look at the past, present and future of voice in games - from a gamer's perspective. The technology powering conversational AI is advancing rapidly, but how can we ensure we're really adding something to the gameplay experience? How do we make sure it's fun?
Isaac will take a whistle-stop tour of some of the best examples of voice and conversation in games; from the beginnings of voice interaction in the 80s and 90s, through to today's genre-creating titles, and discuss what we can learn for the voice games of tomorrow.
Isaac Prior is a high performance computing system administrator by day; a spaceship pilot, armchair general, and alien exterminator by night.
From a Commodore 64, to an Oculus Rift, he's wielded keyboard and controller for over two decades. Between years of professional experience managing distributed computing systems, and decades spent honing his 360 no-scope, Isaac will be of little help when we regress to an agrarian society. When not working, playing games or talking about playing games, Isaac is thinking about playing games.