About Play the Knave

Play the Knave is an interactive digital game developed by the UC Davis ModLab in which players act out scenes from Shakespeare’s dramas, karaoke-style. A Kinect motion capture camera lets players use their own bodies to control their avatar movements, making Play the Knave as fun as it is educational—whether one is playing in a classroom, theater, museum, or at home. Directed by Prof. Gina Bloom and involving other English faculty, early modern graduate students, and undergraduates, this research project is a site for exciting collaboration across all sectors of the department.

One aim of Play the Knave is public and educational outreach to theaters, arts venues, and schools: offering people who might never otherwise perform Shakespeare’s plays a chance to do so and making the plays more accessible to audiences otherwise intimidated by Shakespeare. Additionally, the project aims to contribute to research in the digital humanities and arts. Data generated by installations (observations of players and audiences; feedback surveys; and computational analysis of user play experiences) has opened up research questions relevant for Shakespeare studies, as well as the fields of education and performance studies. The Play the Knave project is always on the lookout for new collaborators on development, outreach, and research.

Research Publications:

Bloom, Gina, Sawyer Kemp, Nicholas Toothman, and Evan Buswell. “‘A Whole Theatre of Others’: Amateur Acting and Immersive Spectatorship in the Digital Shakespeare Game Play the Knave.” Shakespeare Quarterly, special issue on “#Bard,” ed. Douglas Lanier (in press).

Bloom, Gina. “Videogame Shakespeare: Enskilling Audiences Through Theater-Making Games.” Shakespeare Studies 43, special forum on “Skill,” ed. Evelyn Tribble (2015): 114-27.