16 July 2019

International award for Poppyscotland virtual reality project

International award for Poppyscotland virtual reality project

Veteran John Sutherland plays Their Memory

An innovative project to bring UK veterans’ memories to life using virtual reality has won a prestigious international accolade.

Their Memory: Exploring Veterans’ Voices, a collaboration between Abertay University and Poppyscotland, has been honoured by the Serious Play Awards which recognise outstanding commercial and student digital titles used for education or training.

The awards mark a double achievement for Abertay, with three student teams also scooping accolades for work focusing on Cystic Fibrosis, management decision-making and the Paralympic sport Boccia.

Their Memory is a thought-provoking project that sees players explore real-life memories of those who served their countries across major conflicts.

Veteran Alf Gibbons with researcher Emma Houghton

Seven veterans opened up to the Abertay design team, sharing their reasons for signing up, stories of battle and friendship, and describing what the poppy and remembrance mean for them.

The project brought together academic expertise from several disciplines, including videogames, history, education and technology through both Abertay and Poppyscotland.

Dr Iain Donald from the university’s School of Design and Informatics led the project with research assistant and Abertay graduate, Emma Houghton.

Dr Donald said: “From the very beginning, we knew that Their Memory would be a special project to work on. It was an honour to not only hear the experiences of these brave veterans, but to have the opportunity to preserve and share them through virtual reality.

“We are incredibly pleased that Their Memory has been recognised with such a prestigious award, and that we’ve been able to show just how diverse the application of VR can be.”

Veterans Alf Gibbons and John Sutherland

Gordon Michie, Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, added: “Poppyscotland is delighted that this truly ground-breaking project has received international acclaim. The imagination, innovation and the passion of the team at Abertay University, Pocket Sized Hands and Ruffian Games was exemplary, and it is fitting that Their Memory has been recognised in this way.

“It is vital that we preserve and share the memories of veterans’ experiences so that they are understood and recognised for generations to come. This project enables us to reach new audiences using the latest VR technology in an immersive and memorable way.”

The project was supported by Dundee-based games studios Pocket Sized Hands and Ruffian Games, creating an opportunity for each organisation to build upon its own area of expertise, whilst learning from one another.

Gary McCartan from Pocket Sized Hands said: “We’re absolutely ecstatic at this recognition. It was a privilege to be part of this project, and having the opportunity to recreate the real-life experiences of veterans is something we will always remember.”

The Serious Play Awards are linked to the international Serious Play leadership conference, which this year ran in Montreal and Orlando and is now in its 8th year.

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