Heather Albano

Independent Narrative Designer and Novelist

Heather Albano usually describes herself as a storyteller. Sometimes she writes traditional fiction and sometimes she makes games, and she finds the line between the two getting fuzzier all the time.

Heather first got into game design in college, writing and directing events for a live action roleplaying group. Since moving from “hobbyist” to “professional” in 2009, she has co-authored six interactive novels released by Choice of Games; served as lead writer on the critically-acclaimed interactive radio drama Codename Cygnus, released by Reactive Studios, and on the educational game Vixi, created in partnership with Suffolk University; and contributed to the pen-and-paper RPGs TimeWatch and The Dracula Dossier, published by Pelgrane Press. Her first novel, Timepiece, is available from Stillpoint Press.

The recent explosion of activity in the VR and AR spaces has left Heather breathless with delight; she’s been waiting since 1995 for someone to build a holodeck so she can bring all those LARPs she wrote to a wider audience. And even if the holodeck is still a few years away, the storytelling opportunities offered by new advances in augmented and mixed reality tech are here *right now*. Heather is a member of the Boston VR Meetup and the Boston AR Meetup, and in October participated in the “Reality, Virtually” Hackathon hosted by MIT.

She has presented on game design at GDC, at a previous East Coast Game Conference, at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, at Playcrafting Boston, at Women in Games Boston, at the Vermont Games Meetup, and as a guest speaker to classes at Suffolk University, Northeastern University, and MIT.

Talk Description:

All The World’s A Stage: Applying Live Action Roleplaying Design Principles To Augmented Reality Games

The one thing live action games do really really well is immersion. Nothing you do with your thumbs on a controller or shaking dice in your cupped palms is quite like the feeling of actually pulling an arrow from your quiver and nailing the pursuing goblin in the chest while the rest of your party flees to safety. And now, with the recent explosion in AR technology, we will shortly be able to bring this level of awesome to a much larger audience. We can design D&D games to be played in the nearest park. Our players can follow virtual footprints and examine virtual corpses to solve murder mysteries. Ghosts and aliens can infiltrate our players’ daily lives – and be shut off when it’s not a good time to play. Applying the lessons learned from LARP game design will result in more immersive and therefore more memorable AR games.

“This talk will cover some specific best practices gleaned from specific LARPs, and will explore how specific current AR games employ these best practices, as well as how they attempt to compensate for challenges familiar to LARP designers and challenges specific to AR itself.”

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