Play Otogarden and help with research

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Designed by Costantino Oliva, a lecturer at the University of Malta, Otogarden‘s a free-to-play game in which you guide a yokai spirit around a musical garden in an attempt to make a nice tune. Have a mosey about the greenery and you’ll help him with his research into musical participation in digital games. Even if, like me, you create something truly hideous, at least it’s helping him out. Right?

In Otogarden you control a carefree turtle demon and have them wander about a garden where the flora makes plinks and plonks sampled from traditional Japanese instruments. This means that as you run through flowers, bump into trees, and splash in the pond, they’ll each make a nice sound. By pressing or holding K as you’re running about, you’ll leave traces of your past self behind. This acts as a loop, the bit which will let you make a delightful melody.

The reason behind Otogarden’s creation lies in Costantino’s research into musical improvisation, an avenue which he believes is underexplored. So, as you run around coming up with melodies on the fly, you’re actually contributing to his research which is cool thought.

You can open up Otogarden in your browser, or download it for Windows and Mac right now, and give it a go. The wooden steps act as a sort of piano, the only thing my brain could work with. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to make the pink flowers sound nice, though, as they resemble the crackle of popcorn. In the end I crashed between each of the trees in a sort of terrible drum roll, before exiting the game and opening up Spotify. I’m definitely better at listening to music, so I’ll stick to that.

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