The Victorianator

The Victorianator, an iPhone game based on Victorian elocutionary gesture and voice action protocols was completed and shipped to the Apple Store in July 2011  and last updated October 1st, 2011.

The team that worked on Victorianator:

Concept and Team Leader:  Jason Camlot, Game Designer: Stéphanie Bouchard, Programmers: Michael Fortin and Henk Book, Artist: Mohannad Al-Khatib, Writers: Jeremy Valentine and Jason Camlot, Sound Designer: Carré Technologies Inc., Consultants: Heather Kelley and Amanda Williams.

We have received some great descriptive press around the game in the New Yorker, Globe and Mail, GeekDad, Annabelle, etc.

Our first description of the released game ran as follows:

This iPhone game explores the use of gesture to trigger synthetic effects upon speech.  Gesture was a significant part of recitation (reading poetry out loud) during the Victorian period (that’s the Nineteenth-Century).  We have taken specific gestures as prescribed in Victorian elocution manuals and have put them at the core of our gameplay.  The player records one of three Victorian poems in monotone, and then, using these Victorian elocutionary gestures, triggers Victorian style elocutionary effects upon the recording.  The effects we have come up with are also straight out of Victorian elocution manuals, only ours are synthetically generated.  If you perform your gestures properly, on cue, then you “Victorianate” your voice, and succeed in the game.

Questions we explored along the way:

  • How effective is the iPhone’s accelerometer for exploring gesture matching.  And how much fun is a gesture matching game on the iPhone?
  • How might we translate elements of the experience of Victorian parlour recitation practice through use of the iPhone?
  • How might we revive this  now dead vocabulary of motions and gestures that are found in hundreds of nineteenth-century elocution manuals?
  • How “Victorian” can we make an iPhone game?
  • Can we integrate pitch matching into the game to be used in relation to gesture matching?
  • How can we integrate a comprehensive narrative element into this gesture game in a manner that will be compelling for the player and not disrupt but rather enhance gameplay experience?
  • How far can we push the steam-punk aesthetic of our design?

Early screenshot of The Victorianator: