Talk This Way: Voice, Personality & Trivia Crack

The story of how we learned that Trivia Crack talked, and what we did to make sure it sounded right.

What’s the voice of an app? In a few words, it’s how an app talks and addresses the user. In the case of Trivia Crack, it manifests in the form of the hints of personality we stir in, based on our very conscious and careful decision to favor them over boring, aseptic texts (log in, error, cancel).

It’s easy to place words on an interface. To imbue personality into it, is not. And to master the voice and tone it’s supposed to have –now that’s a real challenge.

A journey back in time

In 2014, Trivia Crack went viral. It became a massive hit all over the world, and we received an unprecedented influx of users — tens of millions, in dozens of countries. We started facing new challenges. We needed to optimize the game, get new servers, look into thousands of support cases. We also needed to make sure we communicated with our users as best we could, so that our game could establish a smooth relationship with them. In a more commercial sense, we needed to create a brand voice.

So we started working on a voice and personality map for our game. By then we had already taken note of too many inconsistencies in our interface to keep tiptoeing around the problem. We knew it was time we made sure we understood, once and for all, how we needed to sound.

Baby steps

How informal are we when we talk to our users? Are we friendly and casual, or serious and conventional?

We started thinking of our game as if it were a person. What kind of musings would Trivia Crack share on Facebook? What stories would they post on Instagram? If all of Trivia Crack’s characters went to a party, would they be cheerfully chatting with other guests in a corner, or loudly yelling to catch everyone’s attention?

By that time, our app was consolidated, and the answers to most of our questions were already in the game. We had always searched for our voice. That said, in the whirlwind of having a global success in our hands, it wasn’t as deliberate or thought-out as we would’ve liked. And as it tends to happen, it was hardly documented.

If you looked at some of those early texts, the foundations of our brand personality — some basic style guidelines — were already laid out. They weren’t perfect, but they gave us a place to start.

Trivia Crack is a cheerful, friendly, familiar and educational game. It encourages you to show off your knowledge and play.

Along the way, we also managed to define our register (casual, but moderate); the demeanor we should normally have (agreeable, rather than controversial or polarizing), and the enthusiasm we use to communicate (conversational, like a chat between two friends).

It was great to get this down on paper. But…

Personality has its limits

The fact that an app has personality doesn’t mean it has to be chatty. It doesn’t matter how colorful or distinctive it is.

We learned that we shouldn’t use cute but overly long texts if it meant losing clarity, concision and simplicity. If avoidable, don’t use 20 words to say what you can fit in five. Do away with textual confetti.

And we don’t always talk the same

Infusing a game with personality doesn’t mean it should always sound the same. A user’s experience changes as they play, so why would the game’s voice never change? Pop gets frustrated when you lose your turn. Willy celebrates every time you win a Tournament.

Attuning to varying circumstances is one of the most valuable lessons we learned. An example? This is one of the error texts we used every time there was a problem (it was our jack-of-all-trades error text which we used for everything):

An unexpected error has occurred. We’re working to fix it soon.

It was generic. It didn’t give you a clue about what had happened or how you could fix it. Now, error texts adapt to each case. They tell our users what they can try in order to solve the issue. And they may take liberties when it comes to adding a cute comment:

This shouldn’t be taking so long
Our game elves must be on their lunch break. Try again!

What we aim for

It didn’t take too long for the voice guide to prove its value. These guidelines helped us to identify where we are consistent and where we are not, and they gave us a tool to fix them.

Was it an exercise in linguistic vanity? No (though we did enjoy making it). The voice guide solved a problem we had as a team and as a company: we needed to mold the Trivia Crack brand around clear voice guidelines.

Trivia Crack is Etermax’s star product. For it to remain so, we need users to bond with our game. Every time the game talks, we want users to feel that it’s directly addressing them.

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~ Etermax Content is a publication from the Content team at Etermax, the leading mobile gaming company in Latin America. Follow us on Medium to get our latest posts.