creator Niantic and immersive theater company Punchdrunk have announced “a multifaceted partnership” that may be using mobile augmented reality capabilities to place immersive theater performances in the real world.
An announcement press release doesn’t mention specifics about what that partnership is working on, but it makes clear that the result will combine augmented reality and theatrical performance “on a scale not seen before”. The release continues: “This revolutionary collaboration will lead to new advances in tech-empowered audience experience that will redefine gaming, inspiring audiences for generations to come.”
In a statement, Punchdrunk artistic director Felix Barrett specicially mentions mobile gaming, and mentions taking the sense of adventure from his company’s work “into the real world”, implying that this will take the form of an AR app of some kind:
“At Punchdrunk we create richly cinematic 3D worlds where audiences can explore, touch and smell the environment; where the boundaries between reality and fantasy are indistinguishable. Those that have seen [Punchdrunk show] Sleep No More often liken the experience to how it might feel to walk into a video game. What happens if you take that sense of adventure into the real world? Tear down the walls and the world becomes your stage.
“I believe that Punchdrunk and Niantic can create something that has never been done before. They do it in AR, we do it in real life. Collide the two and I think we will blow people’s minds; bend the rules of genre and redefine the norms of mobile gaming.”
Punchdrunk is an influential theater company that has eschewed traditional stages and audiences, instead creating explorable spaces filled with actors, where the audience become part of the story, discovering it at their own pace. Perhaps the company’s most famous work is Sleep No More, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in a film noir world.
Niantic CEO John Hanke says the teams have been working together for “many months” on projects that meld the virtual and real worlds. He says he believes the potential for their work to be “global and massive”. We’ll update you as we learn more.