A couple of years ago I discovered audiobooks. I first started listening to my own books, actually. When I put Catskinner’s Book on ACX to try to find a narrator I was fortunate enough to interest Brandon McKernan. As part of the process of publishing on Audible, I listened to the book, and I realized that a good reader (and Brandon is very good) can really make a story come alive.
I also suffer from migraines. I frequently have visual distortion as a symptom–everything gets a kind of a rainbow halo, which sounds a lot prettier than it is. I can function during my migraines, but reading is no fun. Once I realized that I can enjoy fiction without using my eyes, well, the rest is history.
So when I heard about Earplay I was very interested. I heard about it through Eddy Webb, an old gaming contact of mine. Eddy is the classic twenty year long overnight success story. When I knew him he was working a full-time day job to pay the bills and freelancing for spare change on the side. He has slowly and painfully developed a reputation for providing a quality product, on time, to spec, and without drama. Now he’s (as he puts it) CEO, President, and Janitor of Pugsteady, which produces the Pugmire gaming and fiction world.
He’s also part of the Earplay Team. So what is an “Earplay”? The short description is that it’s an audio version of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Another way to put it is an interactive radio drama–it’s a radio play that pauses at significant moments for listener input. You speak to choose an option and the story takes the turn you specified.
If you have a late generation Kindle or other Amazon device that has Alexa enabled you can check it out easily by just turning on the Earplay Skill. At the moment, all that is out for Kindle are demos, but they do have a game called Codename: Cygnus that is available on Google Play. They also have a Soundcloud page with samples from the Cygnus game.
It seems to me (I don’t quite grasp all of the technical language) that they are working on developing a publishing platform for other writers and actors to create Earplay-compatible stories. If that’s the case, I can imagine it as an exciting platform–a whole new artform, really.
In any event, I will be keeping a close eye on the developments as they arise. Should be fun.