Produced by Emagine, an Irish creative agency, King of the Vikings is an immersive Virtual Reality experience set inside an authentic recreated Viking house in the ruins of a 13th century Franciscan Friary in the heart of Waterford’s city’s historical quarter.

Thanks to groundbreaking virtual reality, visitors are invited to don ‘magical masks’ and are taken on a guided journey back to Viking times where the ghost of King Reginald spars with the ghost of an Irish Christian monk. The innovative technology brings the epic adventures of the Vikings to life, allowing visitors to experience them in a close and personal way.

Virtual Reality was the integral ingredient in the project from the start, but It was critical that the educational story-telling aspect of the experience was centre stage, as opposed to the VR technology or hardware.

When working with new technologies such as VR, there is always going to be challenges. From a creative sense, this medium is still evolving and the Emagine team needed to think and adapt ideas on a daily basis. This involved getting traditional script writers and videographers to think outside their usual constraints. This freedom was embraced. They could create a world in 3 dimensions, they were able to build an immersive experience that breaks the rules of traditional filmmaking and design.

Visitors, aged 8-80 years, take different things from their experience. Some focusing on the historical elements, listening carefully to the narrative and absorbing the story and timelines, while others relish in the glory of the VR experience both visually and aurally.

The house which hosts this experience was built in a traditional and authentic manner, but customised to Emagine’s specification to house 8 Oculus Rift VR stations in what is effectively an outdoor environment. The visitor is not only brought back in time physically with the re-enactors and the scene of the Viking house but also virtually back in time using VR though a story that spans 1300 years.

The Emagine team worked with 3 local museum curators, historical and archaeological experts to ensure the historical facts were accurate. They also engaged a 5th generation timber house craftsman to construct the framework of the house itself. A traditional Thatcher was enlisted to create the roof and wattle and daub of the house.

There is a place for both experiential and academic learning in the education sphere. It is said that that learning only has good lasting effects when learners have the desire to absorb the knowledge. King of the Vikings delivers stories and historical fact through the medium of VR in an immersive, engaging and entertaining way, where people are learning about the history of the Vikings without even knowing it.

You can find out more about the project here:

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