Chatting with Dave Grossman, Chief Creative Officer of Earplay, a company that specializes in voice storytelling.
We’re thrilled to have Dave Grossman, Chief Creative Officer at Earplay, speaking at SuperBot 2018! We recently had the opportunity to interview Dave so we can get to know this masterful storyteller a little bit better.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m best known for writing, designing, and directing story-centric video games, like Day of the Tentacle or The Wolf Among Us if you’re familiar with these kinds of things. I made adventure games at LucasArts, wrote children’s titles for Humongous and others, and directed design and writing at Telltale Games. I’ve also worked on interactive books, two robot toys, and some live action participatory theater. Basically, I’m a specialist in the murky area where story and interactivity come together. In 2014 I started my current gig as creative chief at Earplay, where we make audio stories that you play with your voice.
What got you interested in the voice space?
I have a typical modern lifestyle that does not include a whole lot of extra time for playing, and I found myself squeezing in entertainment while also doing other things with my hands or eyes – cooking, cleaning the kitchen, exercising, that sort of thing. I got into the habit of listening to podcasts and audiobooks during those times. But then voice recognition started to get good, and it seemed like a great way to turn a passive audience (me, and others like me) into an active one.
You’re building voice apps for big brands, are there any particular industries or use cases you’re seeing customer more interest in?
Our perspective at Earplay is angled by our background in the games and entertainment space and the people we know there. Something we see a fair amount of are big media brands looking to us to provide one segment of a larger transmedia effort, typically anchored by a movie or a tv show. Our recent Mr. Robot Daily Five/Nine Alexa skill is an example of that.
Any interesting learnings from working with brands?
Brands are as unique and diverse as the people behind them, and people, of course, is really what you’re working with. It helps to take the time to get to know them, find out what’s important to them. Figure out what value everybody brings to the table and go from there.
What tips do you have for developers or brands building voice apps?
For starters, it might help to try to avoid thinking of what you’re building as an “app.” Remember that you’re working in a new medium, and consequently some of your old assumptions may not apply.
Where do you see voice apps and devices like Alexa/Google home going in the future?
I imagine the castle from Beauty and the Beast, where many of the objects can accomplish their work on their own if you just tell them what to do, and they can cooperate with each other, and also sing songs, tell stories, have personalities, and generally liven up the place. And you probably think I’m kidding, but I’m kind of not.