StoryFutures Awards A Further Nine VR Projects Funding & National Showcasing Opportunities
StoryFutures: The National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, is delighted to announce the nine winning projects selected from the second round of our VR R&D National Showcasing Programme call.
These projects will join an exciting programme to re-version their story-driven content for delivery in virtual reality (VR) on Meta Quest 2 headsets. Each company will receive individual support and mentorship from the StoryFutures team, including audience insight research, and £8,000 in R&D, marketing & showcasing funding for their prototype VR experience. The companies are set to deliver their experiences in mid July. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their VR projects in a UK wide network of libraries and independent arts & cinema venues from Summer 2023.
Meet the companies behind the 9 experiences and a brief insight into the experiences they will be working on:
Three Lights is an interactive, virtual reality, wartime drama about the lives of three British soldiers, one month after the Battle of the Somme. During the experience we embody one of these soldiers as we sit in a muddy trench with our battle-hardened brother, Stanley, and the young, buoyant, Ralph. Suffering from shell shock, your journey begins as you traverse history through the prism of family during wartime. After getting to know each other and hearing stories from the front line, a lantern explodes, your position is revealed, and you take fire from the enemy side.
UnEarthed is created by Factory 42 in conjunction with Meta Immersive Learning. Designed to inspire people to respect, protect and restore the planet, this demo is one sequence of a multi story adventure, set across the Amazon and the Tongass National Forest. The player is a new research assistant, following ‘The Professor’ - the world’s leading biodiversity expert - to gather research and learn about biodiversity. Guiding throughout is the Ecobot, Hazzi, a droid created by the Professor, voiced by Richard Ayoade (Pixar’s Soul, Disney +’s The Mandalorian).
Empire Soldiers reflects on race relations in the UK up to the present day through stories of the WWI battlefields. In this VR experience you are joined by a returning soldier to share the emotional experience of the return home. The journey continues to the present day as focus turns to the changes of the last 100 years, and the impact of migration on the world today.
This is Your Country Too is an interactive story based on a 2019 comedy for BBC Radio by playwright Avin Shah. It is drawn from the personal histories of post-colonial migrants from East Africa who were rendered stateless when their British citizenship was downgraded by the UK government in 1968, fearing an influx of non-white subjects. It’s a satire on how one’s identity is ultimately defined by strangers.
We embody a teenage schoolboy, VJ, finding ourselves trapped alone in the stateless limbo of airport immigration, stripped of our nationality. So where do we belong? Accompanied by our imaginary ‘Auntie’ – who springs to life from our photo album - we travel through past and future, musing upon our cultural roots and even our future prospects… A Hindu one day becoming UK Prime Minister? How ridiculous!
Goliath: Playing With Reality is an interactive VR experience about the limits of reality in this true story of so-called ‘schizophrenia’ and the power of gaming communities. Echo (narrated by Tilda Swinton) guides you through the many realities of Goliath, a man who spent years isolated in psychiatric institutions but finds connection in multiplayer games. Combining heart-felt dialogue, mesmerising visuals and symbolic interactions, weave through multiple worlds to uncover Goliath’s poignant story.
Buried in the Rock is a VR experience that brings us into the world of Tim and Pam Fogg, rope access specialists and speleologists who see the exploration of caves akin to an archaeological dig holding the secrets to climate change. Though the piece is 6DOF, the user is guided through the spaces with limited use of controllers. Through the protagonists’ descent, the audience experiences the entire dramatic cave system of Tullyard in Northern Island in miniature as well as learning about speleologists.
In Monoliths three stories open the world of the English northern landscape in virtual reality, what it means to come from it, live in it and belong to it. Monoliths By Pilot Theatre in collaboration with One to One Development Trust interweaves radiant renderings of three northern UK environments – a moor, a city and a coast – with sweeping soundscapes and poetic monologues by Hannah Davies, Carmen Marcus and Asma Elbadawi. At once imaginative and immersive, this VR experience is an arresting testament to the inextricable link between person and place.
The Longest Walk is a BAFTA-nominated walking simulator game about depression and suicidal ideation. Over the past five years, Dundee City has been one of the council areas with the highest suicide rate in the whole of Scotland. The Tay Road Bridge – an infamous local landmark for those seeking to take their life – has been labelled a “crisis area” by local councillor Lynne Short. More needs to be done to help people recognise the symptoms of depression and encourage those who are suffering to reach out for help before they reach a crisis point.
When Something Happens, is a VR and Fulldome short film that takes viewers on a journey through the history of the universe. Inspired by David Christians’ Big History project, the film starts from a cosmic void and guides the audience through significant events such as the big bang, star formation, the birth of DNA, and the modern human revolution. The experience is enriched by poetic narration from Boston “The Orator" Williams, immersive visuals, and a captivating soundtrack composed by Olga Wojciechowska.