Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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VRchaeology: Prologue is an exercise in interacting with history

VRchaeology: Prologue is an exercise in interacting with history

In VRchaeology: Prologue, you adopt the identity of an archaeologist. But not just any archaeologist, one more akin to the ones in the movies, one with a thirst for adventure. VRchaeology: Prologue tells the brief story of what it takes to be a hero archaeologist (a.k.a. taking risks). But what’s surprising is that beneath all those excavated fossils, is that it wasn’t developed with only archaeology in mind at all. In fact, its origins are buried in quite the opposite.

“archaeology allows the player to experiment with a range of movement”

Created by the U.K.-based interactive marketing agency Play NicelyVRchaeology was initially crafted as a mere internal pet project for research and development purposes. An experiment to see how a player would interact with a variety of tools in a specific space, like that of an abandoned mine, only with tools like a fossil brush or a pickaxe for hacking away boulders at the player’s disposal. “Each time [you pick up a new tool], the player’s movement and precision is stepped up a little bit,” explained Play Nicely director Scott Fletcher. “You can map what the learning curve is for the players.” 

VRchaeology was made to be ideally displayed as an example of the power of VR for museums and other organizations, so other similar, and perhaps more historical, experiences can find life in the future. “So [we made] a VR activity that demonstrated to museums how you can be put in a historical context and get some first-hand experience,” said Fletcher. “Both of what it’s like to be the archaeologist and then the information about the item, the animal, or man-made item that is discovered. There’s a lot of education that goes in that.” 

Uncover fossils using a variety of tools.
In VRchaeology: Prologue, you can uncover fossils using a variety of tools.

VRchaeology: Prologue is a brief game—maybe ten minutes long at its max. Fletcher likens it to a demo, or a sign of things to come from Play Nicely. “It sits alongside a game that we’ll be releasing soon, which is a first-person shooter,” said Fletcher. “A very different target player [and] target demographic, but it shows the range.” He’s referring to the range of experiences people can partake in within VR, things like their upcoming first-person shooters, or even educational archaeological games about excavation.

Most of Play Nicely’s projects in the past are of the installation variety, though VR is a venture they have wholly embraced in recent months, and plan to continue to do in the future. First-person shooters, excavation simulators, and all. 

You can download VRchaeology: Prologue for free on Steam for the HTC Vive.

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Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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