Conflict, identity and commemoration: exploring veterans’ voices and collective memory through virtual reality

Iain Donald, Ryan Locke, Gordon Brown

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Their Memory explores how game design and immersive technology can be used to enhance existing historical research and expand conflict narratives to bring richer and more expansive experiences to hard-to-reach audiences. Working with the Veterans’ Charity, Poppyscotland, and Game Development Companies, Ruffian Games and Pocket Sized Hands, the project expands documentary and storytelling techniques for the commemoration of war and conflict. With both world wars having faded from living memory, how we engage with the existing historical narrative and remembrance activities of conflict is being shaped by generations that have little direct experience of war. At the same time, the visual imagery of conflict is more accessible than at any previous period. From news and propaganda presented via print and screen media through to the virtual playgrounds of Battlefield and Call of Duty we are surrounded by war and conflict but focus less on the impact on those that served. Their Memory is a short thought-provoking, narrative-driven prototype that enables players to experience the memories of current veterans in Scotland, exploring the different conflicts and situations they have experienced. Co-designing with both veterans and the target audience, the experience presents authentic memories in virtual reality to create a greater sense of immersion for future audiences. Playing with the sense of place, objects and voice the experience recreated the Lady Haig Poppy Factory in Edinburgh and connected these to memories of the veterans who work there, engaging with wider audiences, raising awareness and diversifying the current learning and educational outputs.


ConferenceRethinking War: A Virtual Interdisciplinary Conference
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