In the summer of 2020, I was hired by Amazon Game Studios as a lead narrative designer for a new project. Reasoning that anything with a screen can be made to play games, Amazon was ready to turn its voice-activated device, the Echo, into a game console. I headed up a team of three other writers. We were told “it’s a contemporary comedy, like Parks & Recreation or Gilmore Girls. Make it funny, and keep it clean.”
One tarantula-throwing contest, one Neanderthal pro-wrestling debut, and one absinthe-smuggling caper later, we had a game. Working on it was a blast — there’s nothing like laughing every day to keep you sane during the pandemic.
The game is pretty straightforward: you play the owner of a loft that you’re renting out to people who come into town. You make them happy, they pay you money, you decorate your loft to attract more guests, and on it goes.
The thing that makes the game work is that sometimes what comes out of the guests’ mouths is freakin’ funny. We play it pretty straight in the tutorial, but once you start getting into the Zen master’s gift to you, or the guest that only appears after midnight, or the emotional support emus, the game starts to reach its potential.
My Loft launched February 26th, 2021. To play it on your Amazon Echo, say, “Alexa, Launch My Loft.” A couple of caveats:
- As of this writing, it runs on a very recent version of the Echo operating system (on my machine, it’s Fire version 18.104.22.168). Your Echo may say the game isn’t supported. If you go to Device Settings, you can update your OS. This appears to take a few minutes but may actually take an hour or more before the Echo recognizes everything. So don’t lose heart. Seriously… literally our first review for the game was one star because someone couldn’t get it to play.
- It’s launch, not play. Saying “Play My Loft” will make Alexa look for music.
- It’s rated E for Everyone over the age of 10. So if you’re looking for scandalous humor, this ain’t it. If you’re looking for the down-home farmer Uncle Abel Rossum to give you his opinion on Nietzsche’s concept of the Eternal Recurrence as a useful philosophical tool independent of certain knowledge of reincarnation, boy, we are totally ready for you.
- That last point in #3 may have been a little specific. But they say “write what you know.”
My Loft is available in the Alexa Skills Store.