Play the Knave allows players to become an actor in a Shakespearian play without having to worry about trivial things like experience, skill, or preparation. The game was developed by faculty and students in the ModLab at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Games Institute through IMMERSe. In this essay "'A whole theater of others': Amateur Acting and Immersive Spectatorship in the Digital Shakespeare Game Play the Knave" published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Gina Bloom, Sawyer Kemp, Nicholas Toothman, and Evan Buswell provide in-depth analysis of what happened when an installation of Play the Knave took up a three-month residency in the Festival Hall at the Stratford festival in Ontario.
Play the Knave is a cross between karaoke and machinima: players' voices and actions are projected onto an avatar using recording devices and motion-capture cameras. Bloom, Kemp, Toothman, and Buswell present their findings about player engagement with the game at the Stratford Festival installation. In this essay, you'll learn about how the game's digital form and Shakespearian content interacted with one another to generate important insights into the ancient rhetorical style of declamatory actions as well as contemporary perceptions of Shakespearian performance. This research represents the intersection of digital humanities and theatre studies. It will inspire you to think differently about the way we study Shakespeare, making something we studied in high school seem fresh and new.
In case you still need more convincing…
It wasn't only the players who engaged with Play the Knave; some onlookers that resisted stepping into the role of "player" inevitably found themselves participating in the game. This essay discusses how Play the Knave led to unique, unexpected insights into how people behave in the roles of actor and audience.
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