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King of the Vikings

Storytelling through the power of VR

A guided journey back to Viking times

Located in the heart of Waterford’s city’s historical quarter, 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.

The visitor’s arrival is heralded by a mural that forms the atmospheric backdrop to a hand carved wood sculpture. You are beckoned to enter a darkened reception area by a hologram of King Reginald. Once inside, evocatively animated information panels slowly and imperceptibly draw you back in time and away from the hustle and bustle of the modern city.

Then, thanks to ground breaking 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. This meeting of history and technology will excite the imagination and ensure a memorable experience. This latest attraction for Waterford has really captured the imagination of all.

  • 1300 years of Viking history

  • 500 visitors in the first week

  • 17 minute VR experience

  • 10 Oculus Rifts

Designing for VR

Breaking the rules of traditional film making

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 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. We could create a world in 3 dimensions, we were able to build an immersive experience that breaks the rules of traditional film making 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 360 experience both visually and aurally.

Story telling is the key

VR can bring you not only to places that you could only dream of, but also back in history to a period that only a time traveller will ever experience.

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.

The form of the house was built in a traditional and authentic manner, but customised to our spec 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.

Planning and historical research

The Authentic Viking Experience

The team worked with 3 local museum curators, historical and archaeological experts to ensure the historical facts were accurate. We also engaged a 5th generation timber house craftsman to construct the framework of the house itself. We enlisted a traditional thatcher to create the roof and wattle and daub of the house. The planning from a technology point of view began with the specification and custom builds of the VR computers, the enclosures they run in and how this would fit within the house in an invisible way.

The commercial aspects of the project had also to be considered when designing the length of the experience. Combined with the re-enactor’s scripts, the overall visitor experience had to be kept under 30 minutes, allowing for turnarounds of 2 groups of 8 people per hour (16 per hour).

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Experiential learning

The World's First Viking Virtual Reality Experience

This is a unique offering and the first of its kind anywhere. It is an experience completely crafted in-house by Emagine’s engineers and designers; from logo to trailer videos, to the script and soundtrack, we did it all.

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.

Project image in a mac laptop