A new board game is launching on July 2 that uses Alexa to help players travel the world. The game created by startup Sensible Object is called When in Rome and enables Alexa to serve as a kind of travel guide — teaching players the rules of the game, keeping track of players’ progress and even helping out if players find themselves in trouble.
In what can only be described as a mash-up between a multimedia experience and Trivial Pursuit, When in Rome is powered by a free Alexa skill that lets players visit up to 20 new cities with their friends and family. Once “on the ground” anywhere from Mumbai to Cape Town, players face questions and have guided conversations with real locals who will ask them questions about local customs, street food, and more.
The boxed game will retail for $30 and includes the game board, two player tokens, 18 friend tokens, 14 upgrade cards, and five “souvenirs.” A new package of characters and content will be available for download later this year that is geared toward adults, taking players into the nightlife of the cities featured in the game.
“When you think about having an amazing night out in a city, you won’t know the people you will meet, the kinds of things that might happen,” Sensible Object’s CEO Alex Fleetwood told Venture Beat. “It goes into that kind of territory and brings some interesting ideas into the game. We’re working on music licensing for the game with local artists. So, for example, how do you bring the authentic sounds of contemporary Nairobi into the game, how can we bring that to life?”
That authenticity the game developers are seeking was boosted by the game’s development process. Each city segment was created with the help of a team of writers, composers, and theater directors who managed the dialogue of local voice actors.
London-based Sensible Object only has about 25 employees but made a huge splash in the gaming market when it announced a $3.2 million funding round that included participation from the Amazon Alexa Fund, a $100 million investment arm that is part of Amazon’s push to get Alexa everywhere. Previously, the company was best known for Beasts of Balance, a stacking game similar to Jenga.
While When in Rome is expected to remain the company’s flagship product for the near future, Sensible Objects also plans to make its toolkit for creating board games with virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant available to third-party creatives to develop new games under the brand.
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