Within the market for immersive and site-specific theatre, personalisation of audience
experience has created theatre productions that function in a similar capacity to open world games. In experience led productions by companies such as Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema audience members are given freedom to explore while discovering elements of the plot and individualised experiences.
To ensure a consistent audience experience while retaining an audience’s sense of freedom, sound design principles taken from gaming are used to guide audience members and invite them to interact with the environment.
This paper will look at how gaming principles have been applied to theatre, comparing the role of sound in open world games with examples from immersive theatre. It will build on Collins’ research into sound interaction in video games and Christopher Small’s investigation into audience expectations.
A practice-based research approach will be used to investigate the gaming principles through three pieces of sound design. First, an immersive event guiding audiences around a National Trust property and inviting interaction in a space where audiences may normally feel discouraged or inhibited. The second production is an immersive work, which invites audiences to interact with cast members. The final work looks at how sound can bridge the space between naturalistic and non-naturalistic environments.
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