A musical game about free improvisation.

Explore your musicality in a Japanese garden atmosphere. Control a mischievous kappa, a traditional yokai spirit, and feel the musical possibilities of your surroundings. Through a loop mechanic, your kappa is able to multiply itself, creating subtle rhythms or exaggerated cacophonies. Created for research purposes as a tool to demonstrate musicality in digital games, OTOGARDEN is inspired by the musicking concept introduced by musicologist Christopher Small, the works of media artist Toshio Iwai, and the Japanese musical soundscape.

Read about Otogarden on the Journal of Sound and Music in Games

C. Oliva, A. Poutiainen: "Otogarden: Exploring Musical Improvisation in Video Games". Journal of Sound and Music in Games (2022) 3 (2-3): 28–58.

control a kappa

Control an impertinent yokai, and explore a garden filled with musical possibilities.

overlay musical loops

You can be quiet or loud, as you run through flowers, trees, and a water pond. Loop sound samples to create moments of improvisation.

An array of instruments

Featuring samples of traditional Japanese instruments: taiko, shakuachi, mokusho, and more.

A Note by Costantino Oliva

Hello! I am the designer of Otogarden and a Lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta. Otogarden is intended as a playable support to my research. While digital games afford a remarkable variety of musicking, improvisation remains underexplored, with most games favoring rigid, score-based interactions. Otogarden explores the topic of musical improvisation, "an activity of enormous complexity and sophistication, or the simplest and most direct expression” (Bailey 1993). It does so through an intuitive game interface, inspired by games such as Animal Crossing or Untitled Goose Game.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.