Play the Knave is a cross between machinima and karaoke.
In the first phase of the game, players make design decisions about the Shakespeare scene they want to perform.
Players choose a Shakespeare play from a list of options, which will include the following:
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
Henry IV Part 1
Love’s Labour’s Lost
The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer’s Night Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
After selecting the drama, players decide on the scene they want to perform. We offer a range of scenes from each drama, including options for 1, 2, 3, or 4 actors.
Players choose their level of acting mastery, which will determine how fast the lines from Shakespeare’s script scroll on screen during gameplay.
Players then decide on the kind of theater stage they want to use for their scene performance.We aim to offer at least six stages. Some are models of actual theaters where Shakespeare is performed today. Others are models of historic theaters that have been created by theater researchers.
Queens’ College Cambridge Temporary Stage (ca. 1547-1640)
Courtesy of Shawn DeSouza-Coelho, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Paul Stoesser and the SET Project (2015). Design adapted from Alan Nelson (1994).
If you would like to have a model of your theater stage featured in the game, please contact us to learn more.
Actors and Costumes
Next, players make casting and costuming decisions, choosing avatars to play each of the characters in the scene. The final version of the game aims to offer a choice between seven actors, each of which will have different costume options to fit various settings.
We will offer three different historical settings (Ancient, Modern, Tudor, and SciFi/Fantasy). Below are some of the avatars-actors available in the current version of the game:
Players also choose from among a selection of different sound effects for their scene, including chirping birds, howling winds, and a gentle lute.
Lighting and Other Set Design
Lastly, players put some final touches on their set design. This could include adding backdrops, stage furniture, props, and lighting.
In the second phase of the game, players perform their scene karaoke-style.
Once all the options have been selected, the screen transforms to show the players their designed stage. The player is then directed (through a voice-over and through subtitles on the screen) to come forward for casting. The Kinect camera matches each player’s body with one of the avatar characters that were selected for the scenes.
The players rehearse briefly, getting a feel for how to move their avatars and express themselves through gestures, and then the scene begins.
Shakespeare’s script lines scroll on the top of the screen. The players read the lines with as much gusto as they can muster and gesture with their bodies to animate their avatars.
Recording and Sharing
The scene (players’ voices plus their avatar movements) is recorded, and when the game is over, the players receive via e-mail a link to the video they have produced (installation version) or else can download the video to a computer drive (home or school version).
The video can be edited and/or shared in whatever way players wish.