CEO Guy Gadney explains how AI will connect audiences with stories like never before — and why he joined the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Generative AI Accelerator.
Charisma AI CEO Guy Gadney has an audacious vision for storytelling’s future: Gadney argues generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) will reinvent storytelling, giving creatives the power to build a dynamic environment where audiences actively engage with characters and influence narratives.
Equipped with extensive experience in television, technology, and the arts, Gadney launched interactive storytelling platform Charisma AI with co-founder Ben Salili-James. Charisma makes storytelling immersive, and the company’s conversational characters are built for an array of applications such as video games, educational projects, interactive films, or TV shows.
For example, Charisma released a game called The Kraken Waves which adapts a 1950s sci-fi novel into an immersive conversational experience. In the game, players unravel a mystery through natural language dialogue with characters, directly impacting their actions, emotions, and the storyline.
“In traditional media like TV or books, the audience is a passive observer,” Gadney explained. “Charisma is pioneering a storytelling format where there’s instead a powerful connection between players and the narrative.”
Empowering Creatives With AI
Gadney views AI solutions like Charisma as tools to enhance creativity and enable storytellers to experiment with new ways of telling stories.
“We don’t want to replace writers in any way, shape or form,” said Gadney. “We are introducing a new storytelling format that creates new jobs and new revenue streams for writers.”
Empowering writers and creatives is an integral part of Charisma’s ethos to use AI in an ethical way.
Guy Gadney, CEO
“To have a technology that is thought through from the writer’s perspective is vital. It’s really important to get right. We feel an absolute obligation, responsibility, and excitement to open up the possibilities here.”
— Guy Gadney
Six weeks in the LIFT Labs Accelerator
Earlier this year, Charisma completed the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Generative AI Accelerator, a six-week program providing startups with valuable connections and offering insights into forming successful enterprise partnerships. Charisma AI is now engaging with a number of different parts of Comcast, including Sky and Universal Destinations and Experiences, to bring characters to life through interactive experiences.
The Accelerator builds upon Charisma AI’s existing collaborations with Comcast NBCUniversal. For example, Charisma previously worked with Dreamworks Animation on an interactive web experience for the popular film series Puss in Boots. In the game, Mama Luna’s Cat Rescue, the player adopts a cat, talks to it in their own language, and can even train it to perform tricks.
The idea for Charisma was spawned after Gadney partnered with big companies to create environments for a virtual world game. They incorporated chatbot-enabled characters and noticed that players interacted with these AI characters more than anticipated.
“The average session time was 30 minutes and some sessions ran for six hours. Then I really got excited about this. I wondered if we could add story to the mix, something that could drive tension and pace into that experience to give it a momentum driving these conversations forward.”
The result was Charisma, which is now quickly gaining customers in media, entertainment, and gaming.
“As we move forward, said Gadney, “our vision is for Charisma to be the engine behind every interactive story.”