About the project

Coventry University and the Coventry Telegraph are collaborating on a virtual reality project to tell the story of the Coventry Blitz in a completely new way.

The university secured funding from digital giant Google to create a VR news game that will use 360 degree films, virtual reality and the Telegraph’s archive of photos and text from the devastating attack on the city on November 14, 1940.

The funding has come from the Google Digital News Initiative, which aims to help innovators find fresh ways of bringing news to a new audience.

The university and Telegraph team chose the Coventry Blitz as it is one of the defining episodes in the city’s history and an important story which needs to be kept alive for future generations.

Users will be fully immersed into the story of the Coventry Blitz, with the ability to ‘play’ the news within the game, unlocking more facts and stories from that fateful night through a series of tasks, including fighting the fires at the Cathedral.

The game tasks will give the user the power to make decisions, which will help them appreciate the life and death decisions faced by the people of Coventry during the Luftwaffe attack.

Games in news are a new concept that has been proved to increase engagement and understanding and this project aims to take on those lessons and combine them with VR and 360 footage to give our audience a greater understanding of the blitz.

The project is being led by Sarah Jones, who is acknowledged as one of the most influential people in VR and includes Coventry University BA Journalism Course Director Bianca Wright, VR innovator Sarah Jones of Birmingham City University, the Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement (CELE) team based in Coventry University and Telegraph Editor Keith Perry.

The finished product will be available to download and can be viewed in full using a smartphone and VR headsets. The project team plan to take the VR news game to as wide an audience as possible by visiting schools with headsets around the anniversary of the Coventry Blitz.

This also provides the opportunity for a quality research project, with Coventry University conducting interviews with users to gather data on their experiences.

The gamification of news is still in its infancy and the research should provide enough quality data to publish at least two papers on the project.

The project will have a lasting impact as the news game will be available on an ongoing basis as an educational tool. The prototype game can also be used as a template for future projects.