Voice Recognition: Implications For Tech Games Developers

The world of gaming is broadening its user experience more quickly than ever before. We can’t believe that just a few short decades ago, gaming companies were just announcing games such as Pong and PAC-MAN.

However as new technology develops, so do our forms of entertainment. From virtual reality to motion sensor technology and AR, video games are becoming far more realistic and the line between real life and art is blurring quite a lot.

One of the advances we are most excited about is also one of the most complex. That is the application of voice recognition technology. Experience with this type of software has grown exponentially with our use of smartphones voice controls in our cars, and smart home devices such as Google Home or the Amazon Echo. It seems as if voice recognition technology is appearing everywhere we turn.

Speech Recognition Vs Voice Recognition

It is extremely important to differentiate between these two concepts. Speech recognition addresses the recognition of patterns and connections that are present in human languages. For instance, if the user pronounces the word “up,” the system will recognise the word based upon the properties of the audio signal and is able to interpret it via comparing it to its language database. In addition, it can even decode complex sentences such as questions or – alternatively – instructions.

In contrast, voice recognition merely means the detection and evaluation of sound properties that also determine words. For instance, the perception of volume, pitch, or the characteristics of sounds. All types of voice-controlled solutions can be split into these two major groups.

What Is A Voice-Controlled Tech Game?

A voice-controlled tech game gives you the opportunity to command your character and interact with others via speech.

Groundbreaking gaming companies champion this idea with the objective of making gaming far more accessible for those who suffer from visual impairments. Also, it allows players to further immerse themselves into gameplay using yet another layer of integration.

Also, voice control lowers the learning curve for beginners, seeing as far less importance is put on figuring out controls.

How To Utilise Voice Control In Games?

It is crucial to emphasise that for the vast majority of tech games available today, response time and processing time are remarkably important. After all, these types of games are mostly based upon challenges that require the user to enter the input in the given (often very short) time. For instance, in a car racing game we need to react to corners before we hit the wall. In a shooting game, we need to pull the trigger in time or – alternatively – take cover from enemies before we take damage. Until voice-based control can’t beat the speed of physical control, it can only be utilised in special cases where timing is not a very important factor.

It is simplest to implement speech recognition in the case of trivia or quiz-based games, or ultimately text-based games such as the role-playing game that is called Zork. Here, generally speaking, not only the control, but also the visual representation, can be entirely sound based. Naturally, this is a lot easier to do in the case of a trivia as opposed to in a far more complex role-playing game.

The most evident use of voice recognition is in applications that are related to ancient human expressions, singing, as well as music. For instance, there are a lot of karaoke-based games which compare a user’s sense of rhythm ability to hit pitches (in plain English: singing skills) with the traits of the songs, and then assign scores based upon that. These games normally denote the rhythm and pitch of the corresponding sounds in a coordinated system that is similar to some sheet music.

The Real Challenge Behind Developing Voice-Controlled Games

The real challenge for game developers is accounting for the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of speech data that is needed to build the voice-recognition engines for these games to run smoothly.

Developers need to consider accents, dialects, and entire languages that are on top of baseline video game localisation for players from different cultures. Also, there’s the assembling of all the different possible phrases or voice commands a user would say inside the context of the game to account for. For example, in the rest of the world, slots like you’d find at ZAR Casino South Africa are referred to as slots. But in Australia and New Zealand, they’re called pokies or pokies machines.

Recording and implementing just a handful of expected phrases – short of accounting for natural language utterances – means that the player may never say the ‘correct’ phrase to initiate a response.

Looking Out Over The Voice Horizon

Although speech technology in video games had a rocky start, the end goal has stayed the same – that is to move toward generating art and stories that are immersive. This is at the same time – they are pushing ever closer towards creating experiences which are the same as in real-life. And, also, making the gaming experience as convenient and efficient as it possibly can because every second counts when it comes down to gaming.

Up until very recently, voice recognition technology has been demoted by the major developers in the gaming world however that is beginning to change. Maybe the most significant push for utilising voice recognition in games has been the increase in its familiarity in other aspects of our lives. Apps, voice controls in cars – as well as smart home devices – have made voice recognition an accepted feature in our day. As our familiarity with it grows, its non-existence in video games becomes more prominent.

Ubisoft is starting to making investments into voice recognition gaming. If other popular video game developers – for example Bandai, Blizzard, EA, or Nintendo – would like to follow suit, they would be able to really push the technology forwards. And, luckily for them, there are organisations out there that offer services for speech technology integration. As we begin to see these partnerships form and grow exponentially, we get closer and closer to a future where speech recognition is very accurate, localised, and totally ubiquitous in the gaming world.