© Jörg Metzner


Genre an interactive augmented reality theater game in urban space

In order to make the city even more livable, the focus is on citizen participation. As a surveyor, the audience is released into the urban space with a measuring device to collect data. The way to the smart city is the goal: What is the city around me? What role do I play in it? The staging of the public space with digital technology reinterprets the places, turns the spectators into players and puts them in Kafkaesque situations.

At Sax@Play, the theater audience becomes players in public space, moving independently through the city from a starting point with a tablet. As in Kafka’s novel “The Castle”, they are told stories, have to find places, evaluate them and make their own decisions. Through augmented reality, they experience a digitally staged space at certain points.
A person holding a tablet and viewing AR-content, showing a virtual orchestra.

SAX@PLAY was developed in several production phases:

In a three-day, completely digital hackathon, various game concept ideas were developed under the guidance of expanding focus and TinkerTank with the project participants (theatre trades, representatives of the cities involved, game designers, authors), all of which take Franz Kafka’s novel “Das Schloss” as the starting point. From this, selected concepts became a structured basis for the subsequent app development in a joint process. The game scenes and audio recordings are contributed by the state theaters.

For the concrete implementation of the Sax@Play app, expanding focus created several prototypes to test individual game mechanisms. In the further process, a first playable version for user testing was created in close communication with the cooperation partners. The functions were refined with the results, then tested again and the design for the release in mid-March 2022 was completed.

This iterative way of working enables tight feedback loops and constant adjustment towards the best possible result.

The finished game is provided for several cities (including Berlin), each with an individual route and locally-based content, starting in Freital with “Freital@Play”.

A woman holding a tablet and looking at the screen.

© Jörg Metzner

SAX@PLAY wurde im Rahmen von „dive in. Programm für digitale Interaktionen“ der Kulturstiftung des Bundes entwickelt und des Weiteren gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM) im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR.

Project Details

Cooperation Partner Akademie für Theater und Digitalität Dortmund DE:HIVE Institute der HTW Berlin und der Studiengang Games Design Expanding Focus GmbH – playground for virtual spaces, Leipzig PlayOn! – New Storytelling with Immersive Technologies, Europäisches Theater-Netzwerk Tinkertank – Eine Initiative der Interactive Media Foundation NauHau Lumalenscape