Play the Knave is an augmented reality video game for Windows that enables virtual design and performance of scenes from Shakespeare.
Players choose a Shakespeare script, or write their own, and select sound, costumes, and theater space to complete the virtual set’s design. They then perform the scene karaoke-style in real life by reading the lines that appear on screen and gesturing with their actual bodies. A motion-sensing camera picks up the players’ bodily gestures and maps them onto 3D avatars on screen so that the avatar appears to mirror the player’s movements in real time.
As users play, their voices and avatar movements get recorded, resulting in an animated film of their production that can later be edited or shared.
The concept, content, and design for Play the Knave is the product of an established collaboration between faculty members and students from the University of California, Davis. Our team includes literary critics, theater artists, designers, and computer scientists.
We have created a prototype of the game, which runs on Mekanimator, an open-source platform we developed in-house. The platform is explicitly designed to allow game assets to be easily switched out, and thus Play the Knave can be quickly modified to serve the needs of different audiences and institutions.