UK government invests £33m in ‘immersive tech’, includes Peaky Blinders and Wallace & Gromit projects

The teams behind Wallace & Gromit and Peaky Blinders are collaborating on new projects “led by industry leaders in the games and immersive entertainment sectors to blaze a trail into the world of virtual and augmented reality entertainment”.

The project – “backed by millions of pounds of government investment” – will see Wallace & Gromit creators Aardman work with Tiny Rebel Games, Potato, creative agency Sugar Creative and the University of South Wales to develop a “new immersive storytelling experience based on their famous creations which will put fans right at the heart of the action”.

One of 21 projects benefiting from government investment in the creative industries, this consortium will receive £4 million of the £33 million ministers have made available “to ensure the UK’s immersive technology industry cements its place as a world leader in film, TV and game productions for the future, remaining at the cutting edge of the latest technologies and creating thousands of highly-skilled jobs”.

VR studio Maze Theory is also developing a new virtual reality drama based on BAFTA-winning series Peaky Blinders. Expected to launch in 2020, the game will use artificial intelligence technology so in-game characters “will respond according to the players’ gestures, movement, voice, sound and body language”.

“Success stories like award-winning Wallace & Gromit and BAFTA-winning Peaky Blinders are part of the reason why our creative industries are truly world-leading – attracting audiences both here in the UK and internationally and helping create a sector already worth some £100 billion to our economy,” said business secretary, Greg Clark. “It’s why through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing to build on this huge global demand for UK creative content and ensure we lead the world in the next generation of entertainment.

“This backing will also give our home-grown talent the opportunity to lead the way in creating and using virtual and augmented reality technologies, remain at the cutting edge and create thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”

“It’s fantastic that we complete our line-up of audience facing demonstrators with this hugely ambitious collaboration between Tiny Rebel Games, Potato, Sugar and the creators of Wallace and Gromit,” added UKRI challenge director for Audience of the Future, Prof Andrew Chitty. “Their aim to revolutionise Augmented Reality gaming along with the advances in AI, haptics, audience interaction and film production technologies from our other competition winners means the public will be able to try out some truly ground breaking experiences over the next 18 months.”

Other projects that the government is investing in include: improving theatre experiences for a more diverse audience, such as personalised sign-language displays for British Sign Language (BSL) users or translation captions for non-English speakers and audio descriptions for visually impaired people; personalised storytelling and conversation through virtual reality; and offering businesses immersive learning solutions for employees where they can use virtual and mixed reality headsets to learn at their own pace and repeat tasks as often as required.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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