Minecraft Theater

Matt London

My thesis sets out to create a video game that has a unique form of interaction between player and game. Unlike in most games where interactions are limited between players and computer-controlled characters, Minecraft Theater turns these computer-controlled characters into live actors, who can listen to and respond to the player organically.

Minecraft is an obvious influence. Its customizable world and easy controls inspired me. I also looked to my background and experience in theater, particularly improvisational performance. I studied with veteran interactive theater direction Jeff Wirth, who provided a good deal of counsel. I researched countless games big and small for my thesis, notably the interactive dialogue game Facade. All of my work at ITP prepared me for this project, most notably Collective Storytelling, and the classes I took in game design, including Big Games, Embodied Play, and Digital Spaces.

The actual work I did on my thesis is as follows. I researched game engines to determine the best format for presenting my game, and settled on Minecraft. I created my own custom server, which involved command line coding to add a number of custom scripts. I build an in-game world that served as the map of my game. I cast and trained "interactors" who performed as the characters in-game that the player interacts with. I wrote a loose script that the actors used to guide the player through the game experience. Finally, I did extensive user testing, practicing the game and rehearsing with the actors so that each game was unique, flowed smoothly, and had a fulfilling end.