Microsoft’s social bot Zo wants to play Exploding Kittens with you

Sep 13, 2017   |   Microsoft Corporate Blogs

As a social bot, Microsoft’s Zo is always available to play or talk on select platforms where people message and chat. Now, Exploding Kittens, the history-making card game that became an award-winning app, is turning to Microsoft’s Zo to offer its first single-player version for fans.

On Wednesday, Microsoft and the team behind Exploding Kittens announced a new, free version of the popular, award-winning game, which users can play one on one with Zo. Currently, it’s being made available exclusively by chatting with Zo through Facebook Messenger (m.me/Zo), kik (kik.me/zo.ai) and GroupMe (contact: Zo).

To play, start a conversation with Zo and ask if she’d like to play Exploding Kittens by texting “play EK”. Zo will reply with a link to play together.

Exploding Kittens is a wildly popular tabletop and multiplayer game designed by Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman. It is a highly strategic, kitty-powered, Russian roulette-style game that became the most-backed Kickstarter project of all time with more than 200,000 donors raising more than $8.7 million in funding.

According to Lee, “Exploding Kittens has always wanted to create a single-player version of the game but didn’t want it to be a solitary experience. Teaching Zo to play the game while interacting with players suddenly solved the problem gloriously. Now you can play Exploding Kittens by yourself without being alone.”

Zo turns the straightforward notion of competing against an AI on its head. For Zo, it’s not just about winning but how you play the game together. Inside the game, players get to know Zo’s personality and skill. Outside the game, she extends the experience through connection and conversation.

The ability to play Exploding Kittens is just the latest in a long list of talents for Zo, including other AI-driven capabilities such as natural language understanding, image recognition and commenting, and voice recognition. Collectively, Microsoft’s social chatbots like XiaoIce in China, Rinna in Japan and Zo, who speaks English, have more than 100 million users around the world.

This game comes as chatbots are gradually becoming more useful in many aspects of people’s lives, from relaying the day’s news to helping you order pizza. They’re also becoming more popular for gaming.

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