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ASU students create interactive D&D experience for Movies on the Field event

Will precede showing of 'Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves' at Mountain America Stadium on March 30

People lie on blankets on the football field in the ASU stadium as a movie plays on the screen

ASU 365 Community Union typically schedules interesting programming before the film begins for its Movies on the Field series. "Dungeons & Dragons Game Night" will be Saturday, March 30. Photo by Tim Trumble/ASU 365 Community Union

March 26, 2024

Should the wizard cast a magic missile spell or a sleep enchantment? 

Audience members will get to decide that during a live-action, interactive Dungeons & Dragons game created by Arizona State University students who work in Meteor Studio, an engineering research laboratory that works on augmented and virtual reality.

The students’ game experience will precede the Saturday showing of the movie “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which is the next Movies on the Field event presented at Mountain America Stadium by ASU 365 Community Union.

Jon Ainlay, associate director of 365 Community Union, happened to see “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" on a plane. Because it’s based on the popular role-playing game, he knew it would be an ideal movie for an interactive event that would draw students who wouldn’t normally visit ASU’s football stadium, which is the goal of 365 Community Union.


ASU 365 Community Union will present "Dungeons & Dragons Game Night" on Saturday, March 30, at Mountain America Stadium.

• Doors to the stadium open at 4 p.m.

• The Dungeons & Dragons game experience will begin at 5 p.m.

• The movie "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" will begin at 7:30.

“With every Movie on the Field now, we’re trying to do more programming to create that ASU connection,” he said.

“This is a really fun movie and we knew it could be a large group who could come and be interactive in a creative space.”

Andrew Barrantes Slivinsky, a fourth-year student majoring in business data analytics, is the Meteor Studio student lead for the project. After 365 Community Union contacted Meteor Studio last fall about creating an event, five student workers spent months brainstorming ideas.

They had to create an interactive experience that could work with any amount of people.

“There were pages and pages of ideas and we were trying to figure out something feasible in the time frame but also the coolest thing we could do,” he said.

“A whole virtual-reality experience was proposed, but we heard that the amount of people attending could be over 100 and we didn’t have enough headsets. Having people wait in lines wouldn’t be fun.”

So the students created a story about a group of adventurers that is a prologue to the plot of the movie. Several students across the university volunteered to be actors in the experience, playing D&D characters with a mix of scripted and improvised dialogue.

“We wanted it to really feel like Dungeons & Dragons, where a lot of things are spontaneous,” he said.

“We took a lot of inspiration from the live-action D&D that people play.”

An illustration of a forest with trees and a path
"Dungeons & Dragons Game Night" will feature a narrative story, audio and illustrations created by ASU students, including this scene by Andrea Ramirez Cordero, a graduate student in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and a member of Meteor Studio. Courtesy image

The interactive part is that viewers can use their phones to choose the next actions of five characters.

“There will be a group polling and the audience will choose what they want the wizard to do and the actor will act it out and keep the story moving,” he said.

A big part of D&D play is dice rolling, so the experience will also include people from the audience getting to roll dice to determine the outcome of some events. The game will involve the giant scoreboard screen in the stadium.

“Meteor Studio has the perception of being software developers, but we wanted this to be more like a theatrical piece to show the variety of projects the studio can work on,” Barrantes Slivinsky said.

“We wanted to show off our narrative production and audio skills.”

Ainlay said that one notable 365 Community Union pre-movie program was in February 2023 for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” when a panel of experts, including Nate Moore, the movie’s producer, discussed the themes of Afrofuturism in the movie.

Before the showing of “Dune” in Janurary 2023, Community 365 hosted an “Ask the Astronaut” session with Cady Coleman, ASU’s Global Explorer in Residence, professor of practice in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and co-host of the Interplanetary Initiative’s Mission: Interplanetary podcast.

Besides movies, 365 Community Union has held many other events at the football stadium, including yoga, art exhibits and the recent Sparky’s Fairway driving range event. Pow Wow at ASU is scheduled for April 19–21.

"Dungeons & Dragons Game Night" is free and open to the public but registration is required.

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