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Niantic teams up with Sleep No More creators for new projects

Pokémon Go maker and Punchdrunk hope to ‘expand the horizon of interactive entertainment’

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Masked viewers watch an actor at a typewriter during a performance of Sleep No More Photo: Punchdrunk/The McKittrick Hotel on Facebook

Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is teaming up with Punchdrunk, the creators of immersive theater experience Sleep No More, for “multiple projects that will reinvent storytelling for a 21st century audience,” the companies announced Tuesday.

Those projects, Niantic said, will “further expand the horizon of interactive entertainment,” combining Niantic’s location-based and augmented reality-powered experiences with the immersive, “multi-sensory” theatrical work of Punchdrunk.

Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More is a film noir reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that is told across multiple floors of a fictional New York hotel known as The McKittrick. Viewers are free to explore the hotel’s many rooms and floors, absorbing the play’s storytelling through the environment, while actors move through the space, dancing, fighting, and pantomiming vignettes. Each visit to Sleep No More can be unique, as viewers experience new perspectives or are pulled into intimate, one-on-one storytelling moments.

“It is hugely exciting to be joining forces with the preeminent AR company in the world,” said Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk. “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 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.”

Niantic says it has more than 10 new games in development. That includes a new version of the popular board game Catan built on the Niantic Real World Platform called Catan: World Explorers. The new game will enter a beta test “very soon” and “transforms neighborhoods, towns and cities across the globe into a giant game of Catan.”

Other titles in development at Niantic include prototypes for wearable augmented reality devices, and titles with “unique and innovative gameplay, centered around outdoor exploration, movement and social interaction.”

Pokémon Go Plus

The Pokémon Go Plus is a small Bluetooth device that lets you enjoy Pokémon Go while you’re on the move and not looking at your smartphone. The device notifies you about events in the game, such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby using an LED and vibration.

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