Amazon Audible brings Choose Your Own Adventure stories to Alexa devices
Choose Your Own Adventure Adventure-style stories have made a comeback, thanks to Netflix’s adoption of the format for children’s television and other interactive storytelling, like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”, as well as earlier efforts, like Mosaic from HBO. Now Amazon is testing the genre for Alexa devices, with the launch of professionally interpreted voice-activated stories from the publisher of the original Choose Your Own Adventure book series, ChooseCo.
But it’s clear that ChooseCo is still aiming to benefit from Netflix’s attention and ability to make this storytelling gadget popular with a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers.
Working with Amazon’s Audible division, the two companies are jointly launching an Alexa Skill (appropriately licensed) that will bring ChooseCo’s Choose Your Own Adventure stories to life on Alexa-powered devices, like the Echo smart speakers, which are controlled by voice commands.
The vocal skill itself was co-designed by Audible, ChooseCo and the Alexa team, and will kick off with two stories to begin with: “The Abominable Snowman,” which takes listeners to the Himalayan peaks in search of the yeti, and “Journey Under the Sea”, which ventures into the lost underwater city of Atlantis.
The first offers 28 endings in total and the second offers 37.
Instead of Alexa’s robotic voice, the stories are told by voice actors Josh Hurley (Abominable Snowman) and Stephanie Einstein (Journey Under the Sea.)
Those of a certain age will remember reading the Choose Your Own Adventure stories as children, but these versions of Alexa are meant to entertain all ages, says Audible. Of course, one wonders how many times adults will want to listen to fantastic yet familiar tales like this, after satisfying their initial curiosity after the format’s smart speaker debut.
The stories will vary in length, depending on which narrative branch listeners take, but can provide “hours” of entertainment, Audible told TechCrunch. In addition to answering how-to questions, you can also use voice commands such as “go back”, “start over” and “change story” to navigate the app.
Currently the stories are free, as is the skill. Audible declined to say whether a subscription or in-app purchases would be offered at a later date to give listeners access to more stories. The future of the skill is likely still under investigation – for now, companies are looking to see if consumers are adopting and engaging with the format on voice devices, or if the skill fails.
If the stories take off, however, more could be sold or Amazon could even choose to bundle the stories into its audible channel offering, which is used to attract Prime subscriber registrations.
To try out the stories yourself, you can say “Alexa, open Choose your own adventure from Audible”. This will activate the skill so you can get started.
The stories begin with a warning similar to the ones you may remember from children’s books – that this story is different and that “you alone are responsible for what happens”. He warns that there are dangers, adventures and consequences to come, and that your choices could “end in disaster … or even death!” “
The stories then progress as you’d expect, with a bit of storytelling before being asked to choose the next path. On Alexa devices with a display, a few simple illustrations are displayed.
Audible’s new Choose Your Own Adventure stories aren’t the only example of this format coming to audio. In addition to ChooseCo’s own in-line audio system Games, there is also a comic game show which uses the format, and the NYT even tried an adventure to choose yourself in 2017. There is also skills for interactive stories that do not use the ChooseCo brand.
The official Audible skill is here on the Alexa Skills store.