Were you unable to attend Transform 2022? Check out all of the summit sessions in our on-demand library now! Watch here.

Skyrim: Very Special Edition was the best gag so far at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a way of Bethesda making fun of itself for its multiple ports of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Yet as the actor interacted with his Alexa, having the device describe its situation and ask questions from playing Skyrim, what I saw wasn’t a joke but a way to make single-player role-playing games work on a smart assistant.

Alexa does Dungeons & Dragons, if you will.

Think about what tabletop role-playing games like D&D are. One person, the Dungeon Master (or Game Master if it’s not D&D), tells the story, setting up situations for their players as they take on the story. Now, a smart assistant can’t replicate what a flesh-and-blood DM could do, reacting to the off-the-wall whims of the adventuring party (like how when you plan a dungeon for your party, but they see a road going the opposite direction and decide, “Hey, let’s go this way instead”).

But maybe Alexa, Cortana, and their ilk could replicate the old text-based MUDs (multi-user dungeons) from the late 1970s and the 1980s-early 1990s. The first were straight-up takes on what was then the new game of D&D. What we saw in the Very Special Edition was quite similar to these MUDs, so much so that someone even made the comparison when I tweeted that an Alexa RPG would be a good idea.


GamesBeat Summit Next 2022

Join gaming leaders live this October 25-26 in San Francisco to examine the next big opportunities within the gaming industry.

Register Here

I don’t know how difficult it would be to program an interactive narrative over a smart assistant — could today’s Alexas and Cortannas handle it? Maybe Bethesda itself will notice how smart this idea is — it did announce an Elder Scrolls mobile game today. Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of D&D, has a mobile game coming out soon with Warriors of Waterdeep. It also feels like a good fit for MetaArcade, a platform for creating RPG-style adventures.

Maybe soon, we’ll be asking Alexa to cast magic missile on those pesky goblins.

Update, 3:07 p.m.: The Alexa team reached out to say that this skill is real, and you can access it here. I’ve also received a couple of pitches from developers working on smart assistant RPGs, so expect a story on this after E3. 

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.