Meaningful Play 2022 at Michigan State University

Game Information

TitlePlay the Knave
Presenter(s)Gina Bloom, Evan Buswell, Colin Milburn, Nicholas Toothman
SessionConference Reception, Game Exhibition, and Poster Session
TimeWednesday, October 12, 7:00p-9:30p
LocationMSU Union Ballroom
FormatGame Exhibition
DescriptionIn this Windows-based game played via the Kinect motion-sensing camera (mixed reality version) or via headsets (virtual reality version--in beta), one to four players engage their voices and physical movements to animate avatars in a digital theater production. Knave is preloaded with scripts of scenes from Shakespeare's dramas or players can use an online tool we developed, Mekanimator Scriptmaker, to write and upload a script of their own making. Once the script has been selected, players navigate a menu system to design their virtual theatre production by choosing from among a range of costumed avatars, theatre stage models, and background soundtracks. Players then perform the script they have selected karaoke-style using the scene assets they have selected. As players read out their lines, which appear on the screen, they move their onscreen avatars with their own bodies: the motion sensing hardware captures user-generated skeletal data and maps it onto 3D avatars. This enables the avatars to mirror players' movements in what feels like real time. As players perform, their voices and the movements of their avatars are recorded, resulting in an animated short film that can be viewed, shared, or edited. In effect, players create for themselves and most often for an audience as well two performances simultaneously, one physical and one virtual.

The mixed reality version of the game has been used for teaching Shakespeare in K-16 English Language Arts classrooms throughout the U.S. and, most recently, in English Home Language schools in South Africa. It has also been exhibited worldwide in museums, theatre lobbies, libraries, and cultural institutions.

The VR version is still in its early stages of development, and we are interested in exhibiting the versions side-by-side at the conference partly in an effort to get feedback on how players experience the game differently in these two formats. (However, if you need a more finished game, we would just exhibit the mixed reality version)

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