The LEVOOBA Kids skill for Alexa (short for Learn-Voice-Battle) allows students to virtually play with and against each other in a quiz game. Students can choose questions from curriculum-compliant school topics. Alternatively, teachers can upload their custom questions in the skill’s backend system.
The skill has seen rapid uptake in recent months, where teachers in multiple countries have looked for innovative ways to interact with their students. LEVOOBA was awarded the Best Kid’s Skill by Devpost and was nominated as one of only 15 finalists at the Rising Digital Award.
LEVOOBA is the brainchild of three entrepreneurs: educational game developer Kristin Daum, children’s author and media educationist Sandra Noa and Alexa Champion Daniel Mittendorf. Nina Neuf-Killian, a voice strategist and former executive at Sony Music joined the company after meeting Kristin at a conference. LEVOOBA’s team members are driven by a commitment to find useful applications to technology, along with a desire to minimize passive screen time for children in their families.
“I wanted to build with voice because of how simple and intuitive it is,” says Daum. “You don’t need to learn to type on a keyboard or use a mouse. You can just use your voice which is something that you are born with. This allows you to build transformative experiences for children.”
The team at LEVOOBA offered five learnings from their experience taking their skill to the next level, increasing engagement during skill sessions and repeat visits:
1. Think through a detailed dialogue design
Dialogue design involves thinking through individual dialogs, and then coming together as a team and with test users/test kids to act them out. Acting out the different ways users might interact with the skill enables LEVOOBA to find out which dialogues drive engagement, and take out prompts that are boring or repetitive.
To give an example of this process in action, LEVOOBA divides its audience into three buckets depending on how often they have interacted with the skill: new users, returning users and heavy users. Each of these segments gets distinctive experiences. For example, new users get a more detailed welcome message than heavy users, who are more likely to be familiar with how the skill works.
Developing engaging dialogue designs also extends to the gamification elements of the skill. For example, the LEVOOBA skill asks children to perform jumping jacks between rounds to keep them engaged with the skill.
2. Develop multimodal experiences with Alexa Presentation Language
LEVOOBA utilizes the Alexa Presentation Language to create companion visual experiences to their voice experience. Teachers, parents and children can interact with visual cards, animations, graphics, images and video on devices like the Echo Show, Fire TV, Fire tablets and other devices.
One of the experiences that LEVOOBA created was an animation loop of snowflakes falling during the holiday season.
LEVOOBA also utilized the Smart Motion Support for Echo Show 10 to provide children engaging with the skill with a physical response from the device. Motion-capable skills for the Echo Show 10 enables skill builders to make the device to physically shake in response to player input, which in turn imbues the skill with more personality.
3. Offer multiple player modes
By allowing children to compete with each other, LEVOOBA is inherently a multiplayer game. However, the skill also allows children to play in single player mode – for those mornings when they don’t feel particularly competitive.
To help skill builders design games that allow users to compete with each other, Amazon GameOn offers a set of flexible APIs that allow developers to design leaderboards, skills, in-game prizes and engage with each other easily.
Amazon GameOn is a set of flexible APIs that allows skill builders like LEVOOBA to build cross-platform competitions into their games. In addition to leaderboards, developers can deepen engagement with their fanbase with leaderboards and leagues, awarding in-game prizes, and enabling streamers to play with their followers with a simple click.
4. Develop unique visual and audio branding for your skill
LEVOOBA utilizes distinct branding at every opportunity to ensure that users are constantly aware that they are interacting with their skill.
Visual cues like logos, fonts and branding elements are utilized to further a sense of user connection to the LEVOOBA brand. However, LEVOOBA also utilizes audio to create a distinct branding for the skill. APL-A (Audio) enables LEVOOBA to provide distinct chimes and prompts at different moments in game play – such as when users open and close skills, and when they provide correct or incorrect answers.
[Get started with APL for Audio Reference | Alexa Skills Kit]
5. Iterate, iterate, iterate
LEVOOBA plans to utilize the new features enabled by the release of APL 1.8 to provide even more enriching multi-modal experiences. APL 1.8 is already available on Echo Show 10, Echo Show, 1st Generation, Echo Show 2nd Generation, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 8. and Fire TV devices. APL 1.8 offers developers to enable portrait mode across the entire Echo family of devices.
LEVOOBA also plans to use web APIs to optimize game experiences. Most standard web frameworks, like Phaser and ThreeJS have support to detect orientation and perform some action like locking or asking users to flip their device, in addition to being able to support features like portrait mode.
Find out more resources to build game skills on the Alexa Game Skills website.