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Chatbots as Entertainment

Why do we expect chatbots to do something useful for us? A large part of our collective computing resources are expended on games. Why can't chatbots just have fun too?

· Big Data Zone

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Seems everybody is talking about bots and how they can be effectively deployed to assist people in all sorts of tasks. Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint recently posted on his blog about the four basic use cases for the current generation of chatbots. Tunguz sees these four use cases as:

  • Alerts
  • Search/Input
  • Support
  • Booking

Humani JessieA couple of months ago I tried out a completely different type of chatbot. This chatbot is so “way out there” that it doesn’t fall into one of Tunguz’s four use case categories. To understand the purpose of Pullstring’s Humani Jessie chatbot, you’d have to create a fifth, hybrid category that could be called something like “entertainment marketing.”

As soon as you engage with Humani’s Jessie chatbot on Facebook Messenger, you’re plunged into a sleazy interactive romance novel. Jessie is a messed-up millennial in search of a job, new living accommodations, and her next hot date. She texts with you as if you’re her closest confidante and seeks your counsel on all sorts of crazy decisions.

When she’s on a date with a new guy, she checks in with you to give you the details and often asks for your input.

Jessie 1Jessie 2Jessie 3

Jessie disappears and then reappears with a text when you’re least expecting it, just like a real, flaky friend might. Though the Jessie / Humani isn’t marketing anything other than itself at this point, the overall conversational experience is engaging and could be a platform for brand marketing.

Though the whole Jessie experience was definitely silly, I found chatting with the automated bot to be at least mildly engaging. I interacted with Jessie for a few minutes over an entire week and played the whole adventure out until its abrupt conclusion.

Entertainment bots are here and they exist on most messaging platforms. Arterra is a “choose your own adventure” style sci-fi experience on Kik. In a conversational interface, the Arterra adventure takes you on an action-packed space thriller.

What’s the future for entertainment bots? Is there a way to monetize them? It may take some time to find out.  In a recent article, Scott Rosenberg investigated various use cases for bots and quoted the team from Kik as saying the present moment for bots is akin to the web’s “Netscape 1.0, blink-tag phase.” In other words, we’re really early on in the evolution of bots.

If user engagement is any measure of success, bots that offer truly entertaining conversational experiences may eventually have staying power. How they’ll be used and what they may evolve into remains to be seen.

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Published at DZone with permission of Amy Stapleton, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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