My son is a huge fan of games like Mad Libs and Lucky Trivia on our Nest Hub. Funny enough, he actually discovered them on his own thanks to Google’s efforts to showcase them for families over the past year or so. While we haven’t seen a lot of new games lately, I was recently asked to review an immersive pun by its developer, Volley, that works on something that has become quite central to our culture of our. days – GIFs. It was featured in The Keyword’s Nest Hub promo video in December, but it’s only available now.
“Magic Word” was developed by Volley, the same team that posted “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” and Song Quiz ”on smart screens. This is a team of 35 people who use popular IP addresses in partnership with their original developers and make them accessible to many people through smart screens using Actions on Google. You can try out Magic Word for yourself by saying “Hey Google, talk to Magic Word”. It’s actually pretty fun, and I played it a bit with my son. Basically, you are presented with four GIFs and asked to fill in the blanks or guess the word using them as clues. All GIFs will be based on the same theme so you can do that.
Once you think you’ve got the right answer, just say it with your voice or type it in using the touchscreen. This allows you to play in situations where you turn down the volume late at night or cannot speak aloud for some other reason. If you find yourself in an environment where you are surrounded by other people, the game has no player limit so everyone can have fun.
You can see a sample game played in the trailer above if you’re interested. It’s clear that voice interactions are the future of smart devices, at least in combination with traditional typing methods, and I’m happy to see a greater variety of games available for my family and yours. Magic Word was created with Interactive Canvas, a framework for Google Assistant that leverages Google’s conversational actions and adds visuals.
In addition to having an ‘Endless Mode’ which allows you to puzzle after puzzle, there is also a ‘Daily Puzzle’ which refreshes every 24 hours. Finally, and before I go and put this in front of your kids, I’ll give you a fair warning. Magic Word offers an IAP template where you can purchase coins from a store and prices range from a dollar for 100 coins up to $ 100 for 20,000 coins. I don’t really know anyone who would pay money on their Nest Hub to facilitate a guessing game, as it’s just meant to blow off steam and not as a competitive gaming tool. The choice of Volleyball here seems overkill and concerning, especially since its target audience is clearly families and maybe even children.
This alone makes me fear that developers are starting to take advantage of smart displays to introduce operant conditioning or “skinner boxes” into your devices “at a glance” where they have traditionally never been a part. The fact that they marked the $ 100 offer as “Best Value!” Makes it even worse. Anyway, if you can play Magic Word without spending the money and making sure your kids don’t, I think it’s fun for lazy afternoons. If you absolutely must get some extra guesses for the parts, just buy for a dollar here or there, as the developers deserve some buy-in for their polite efforts.