Play 'Exploding Kittens' free when you challenge Microsoft's Zo chatbot

Exploding Kittens
Microsoft said on Wednesday, September 13 that it teamed up with the developer of Exploding Kittens to bring its social chatbot called Zo into the popular card game. The company originally introduced its AI-powered chatbot on the Kik messenger service in late 2016 followed by GroupMe and Facebook Messenger. It’s capable of having “intelligent” conversations with carbon-based units like us, and now it wants to play one-on-one matches with us in the explosive kitten-based game.

If you’ve never heard of Exploding Kittens, it consists of a single deck of 56 cards, each with its own unique “ability” including skipping a turn, forcing the next player to take two turns, re-shuffling the deck, and so on. The object is to not draw an exploding kitten card, and hope that you have a “defuse” card in your hand if an exploding kitten is drawn from the deck.

Exploding Kittens is a wildly popular tabletop and multiplayer game designed by Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman,” Microsoft says. “It is a highly strategic, kitty-powered, Russian roulette-style game that became the most-backed Kickstarter project of all time with more than 200,000 donors raising more than $8.7 million in funding.”

According to Lee, the studio sought to create a single-player version, but didn’t want a Solitaire-type experience. And while Lee says that the team trained Zo to play the game and interact with players, there’s currently no real communication between bot and carbon unit … at least, not on the PC version. The only kitten-laced interaction provided by Zo is a message saying to “click on the link if [you’re] ready to lose.” You may even get a generic expression within the game itself.

The physical version of Exploding Kittens starts at $20, but you can also purchase the mobile version for Apple iOS and Android devices at a measly $2. The physical Exploding Kittens Party Pack for $30 supports up to ten players, and includes the mobile games.

“Zo turns the straightforward notion of competing against an AI on its head. For Zo, it’s not just about winning but how you play the game together,” Microsoft says. “Inside the game, players get to know Zo’s personality and skill. Outside the game, she extends the experience through connection and conversation.”

If nothing else, Microsoft’s chatbot is entertaining. In messaging apps, it’s capable of carrying a conversation, although at times “she” doesn’t understand the context of your reply. Still, the technology behind cloud-based artificial intelligence is amazing given that there’s no human at the other end of the conversation.

But in the solo PC version of Exploding Kittens, you may feel like you’re just playing against the game instead of battling with a conversant third-party artificial intelligence. Even so, it’s loads of fun regardless of Zo’s seemingly lack of in-game responses.

To play Exploding Kittens with Zo on the PC, head to the links below, and send the chatbot a message saying “play EK.” You’ll get a link to play one-on-one against the game in Easy, Medium, and Expert modes.


How the Google Stadia could lead to a new era of multi-GPU gaming

Google's Stadia could use more than one graphics card to deliver the high-performance visuals it's promised. If that leads to better developer support for multi-GPUs, could that mean gaming with two or more graphics cards could finally be…

Which mid-range Nvidia Turing graphics card should you buy?

Nvidia's top mid-range cards are all solid performers, but which offers the best bang for buck? To find out where you should spend your money on your next big upgrade, we pitted the GTX 1660 vs. GTX 1660 Ti vs. RTX 2060.

Intel Command Center lays foundation for next year’s ‘Arctic Sound’ GPU

Intel revealed its new Command Center driver software at GDC 2019. The updated interface will control current Intel integrated graphics and also lays the groundwork for next year's Intel video card.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.