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Because the Night - Immersive Theatre for Digital Audiences: Mapping the affordances of immersive theatre to digital interactions using game engines
conference contributionposted on 2023-01-27, 01:30 authored by Gerard MulvanyGerard Mulvany
Immersive theatre is a highly interactive format that raises the audience's agency over their experience, and, depending on their actions, provides each member with their own understanding of the overarching narrative that developed based on the spatial path they undertook. This theatre format challenges traditional theatre digitisation techniques as current archiving and reproduction methods cannot authentically replicate the affordances (or 'actions possible') that audiences have in the original performance. Theatres need to explore new methods of digitisation and archiving, to preserve past experiences and cater to an audience who will access content digitally. This report documents the design decisions and their impact for the interactive prototype digitisation and archival of the 2021 immersive-theatre production "Because the Night"for a digital audience. This interactive digital archive utilises game design and game engine technology to map and transfer the affordances of audiences from the original immersive theatre play to a digital platform, leveraging the game engine's innate affordances, including freedom of movement, spatialised audio, and user intractability. To deliver these research outcomes, the project captured 360-degree video of the performance, music, images of props, and 360-degree photographs of the set, all embedded into a game engine system to authentically preserve the immersive, interactive, and ambient experience of the original production. The resulting system was able to successfully map several of the performances original affordances, including environmental exploration, spatially emergent narratives, object inspection and exploration, and interactive environmental challenges. This document reports on three matters: the design process and decisions to authentically capture the affordances of the theatre production in a digital gameplay experience; the current status of this research project; and the proposed approach to testing the prototype with users.