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‘The Woods’ is a local multiplayer cooperative game that employs AR and 4-channel audio spatialization panning to produce a shared experience that is both digital and physical. It is designed to promote social interaction and encourages players to collaborate. As players choreograph their movement in real-world space, they interact with birds, clouds and other objects in virtual space. Together, players experience an immersive sonic narrative of rumbling storm clouds and desperate voices that weave together stories of reconciliation.

What makes ‘The Woods’ unique is how it uses AR and enables players to physically collaborate with one another. Utilizing AR markers, we track the positions of the players’ smartphones as they move through the 12x12-foot game space. Knowing the positions of the phones allows us to literally connect them to one another and place a virtual branch between them. In short, the phones serve as the branch’s endpoints that players can manipulate in virtual space by moving themselves through real-world space.

The players’ goal is to maneuver this branch through virtual space, and seek birds in flight to offer them respite, and a perch to land on. Upon landing, the birds deliver fragments of desperate voicemails, longingly reaching out to the players. ‘Collect’ all the birds, and players will hear the voicemail in its entirety. However, players must also avoid the threat of virtual storm clouds passing through the game space. Colliding with them will disrupt your efforts and cause any of the birds you’ve collected to scatter and fly away.

‘The Woods’ is designed as a collaborative experience that promotes social interaction and encourages players to work together. This thread is woven tightly throughout the game’s narrative, as the voices in ‘The Woods’ remind players of their own connectedness to others while prompting them to act.



Collaborators:
Prof. Kyoung Lee Swearingen, Department of Design/Moving Image Production, The Ohio State University
Prof. Scott Swearingen, Department of Design, The Ohio State University
Dr. Marc Ainger, School of Music, The Ohio State University
Dr. Federico Cámara Halac, Postdoctoral Scholar, School of Music, The Ohio State University
Sruthi Ammannagar, Graduate Research Assistant, Computer Science Engineering, The Ohio State University
Matt Hall, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Computer Science Engineering, The Ohio State University

Additional Collaborators:
Prof. Mandy Fox, Department of Theatre, The Ohio State University
Prof. Kevin McClatchy, Department of Theatre, The Ohio State University
Skylar Wurster, Graduate Research Assistant, Computer Science Engineering, The Ohio State University
Rosalie Yu, Creative Technologist, The Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Players and In-Game footage



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