What Are Interactive Audio Stories?
Voice is the descriptive term for the technology and concept behind Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which we use to tell our stories, RPG games and more!
Users are able to interact with them by speaking to them and, in this way, use the apps (“Alexa Skills”, “Google Actions”) available on both platforms.
Audible content is presented to the user through a speaker, sometimes with visual support (displays, smart TVs etc.).
Interactive audio stories have no linear story or passive listener. Instead, text segments are being read to an active player, ending with a Player Choice.
By voicing predefined commands – Player Utterances – the player then decides how the story should continue.
Making it an absolute interactive and immersive experience on every story you hear!
Example 1: Text Segment With Player Choice
[Narrator] “The magic sword in your hand starts to glow as the dragon lifts its head. Do you wish to attack the dragon, negotiate with him, or try to flee?”
[Player] “I attack the dragon!”
[Narrator] “With a battle cry you raise your weapon and charge the dragon…”
[Player] “I want to negotiate with the dragon!”
[Narrator] “You sheathe your weapon and lift your hands in a calming way to show that your intentions are peaceful…”
[Player] “I flee!”
[Narrator] “You turn on your heels and start running. The dragon spews a cloud of flame after you, almost incinerating you…”
Player Choice: question at the end of a story segment where the player is being offered several options of how the story should continue or how the player character should react. (See also closed and open Player Choices.)
Player Interaction: the moment a player interacts with the story by making a choice.
Why Interactive Audio Stories are an Exciting Format
In interactive stories, passive consumers are transform into active players. They become the heroes of their own stories.
Regularly engaging players with consequential decisions locks in their focus and establishes an inherent level of suspense and anticipation upon which to build.
This can become a valuable tool in building strong emotional connections to your world, plot, and characters. Teasing your players with what could have been contributes to the replay value of each story, enticing them to go back and explore alternative outcomes.
Presented in the form of traditional gamebooks, interactive stories have been a niche market for a very long time.
But what only reaches a small readership in printed form thrills millions in other media formats. Video games like Mass Effect, story apps like Episodes, and shows like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch tell their stories in an interactive way.
Players, users, and viewers make decisions about the course of events and experience their own story in the role of the player character. The success of franchises such as these has seen an increased demand for personalized, immersive gaming experiences where you get to choose your very own adventures.
Through spoken Voice commands, virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Samsung and Bixby now offer a new medium which is perfectly suited for interactive storytelling.
Player Character: the character a player is playing within an interactive story.
Positioning Yourself as an Author and Reaching New Readers
Since Voice is still a young market, it gives you the opportunity to position yourself as one of its first interactive authors early on to make yourself more widely known and to reach a new audience.
If you have already created and established your own worlds with your novels and tales, you can now expand upon them and strengthen your brand by writing interactive stories in these worlds.
Using Interactive Audiobooks as Marketing Tools
Active engagement with players of interactive stories can be used in different ways. Players will form a close bond with your story, world, and characters through their decisions. Writers can integrate surveys into their stories and gain valuable feedback about player behavior by using a statistics feature.
You can also use Voice to promote books, eBooks, audiobooks, or websites or sell them directly via upselling. Players can order books directly and conveniently from within the story using Voice commands.
Interactive Audiobooks as Standalone Products
Interactive audiobooks can be monetized using in-skill purchases (ISPs). Similar to how the Google Play Store enables monetization for smartphone apps, Voice enables freemium, premium, and subscription-based revenue models. Amazon awards payouts for frequently and heavily-used Alexa Skills.
In-Skill Purchases (ISP): purchases that the user can make directly from within the Alexa Skill or Google Action, for example to unlock additional content or features.
Freemium: a Skill or application that is free-to-play (but can have additional, paid content).
Premium: paid Skill or application.
Subscription: A monthly fee to unlock certain content which can be canceled at any time.
Summary – Description and use of interactive audiobooks
Interactive audiobooks are non-linear stories in which Voice commands determine the plot progression, turning passive listeners into active players.
These and similar apps for Voice platforms are called “skills”.
The market for interactive audiobooks is young and brimming with potential for writers who are able to establish themselves early on.
Interactive stories can be used as a marketing tool to promote other books, eBooks, websites, and products. They can be monetized by selling products directly within the skill (in-skill purchases).