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Microsoft, Fatshark veterans form new studio for immersive audio book games

Peter Zetterberg and Thomas Lindgren establish Wanderwood in Boden, Sweden

A pair of industry veterans have established a new studio in Boden, Sweden that will work to merge gaming principles with audio books to create interactive experiences for mobile and smart speakers.

Microsoft Xbox veteran Peter Zetterberg and Fatshark chairman Thomas Lindgren have partnered to create Wanderword, which is both the name of the studio and the studio's first project.

"Wanderword is a platform for interactive audio-books that will empower storytellers to share their stories to active listeners around the world," said Zetterberg in a statement on the company's website. "Using speech recognition, speech synthesis, narrative branching, geo-location and sound effects, a Wanderword story can be played on any mobile device or in-home voice enabled device. We put writers and active listeners first. Our primary purpose is to be of service to those who love storytelling."

On the official website, they endeavor to make clear that Wanderword isn't a game, an audio book, or an app, but its own new kind of experience. It's essentially an interactive audio book that users can adjust to their preferred level of interactivity and depth (for example, one might want a less complex session while driving, or more of one while sitting at home). Wanderword then serves as an interactive story that user input will direct.

The studio is also experimenting with a number of other features, including geo-location (where stories will change based on where the user is located or moves to), procedural storytelling, kinetic typography (a kind of moving text that could be used on mobile to supplement stories), and asynchronous multiplayer where users can interfere with one another's stories and interact.

"I grew up in a small town before there was an established game developer industry in Sweden," said Zetterberg to Boden Business Park. "I know how much talent there truly is outside our larger cities, be it in music, games, art and film. I want to make sure Team Wanderword taps into that pool of passionate talent and help young and aspiring game developers grow and eventually, build their own companies. Giving back to my country is the least I can do at this stage of my career."

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.