V&A Museum London & HTC Vive Arts: Curious Alice VR experience

Category: Interactive Film & Virtual, Augmented or Mixed Reality; Entrant: Preloaded

Curious Alice 1

Ever since Lewis Carroll first shared his books with the world, the stories of Alice in Wonderland have continued to inspire. To celebrate this tradition of innovation, the V&A Museum in London extended the adventures of Alice into virtual reality as part of their major 2021 exhibition, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser. To bring this to life, the V&A and HTC Vive Arts partnered with Preloaded to create Curious Alice.

Curious Alice is a mind-bending VR trip to Wonderland, in which visitors’ own curiosity and exploration are rewarded. With none of the spatial constraints of the physical world, the experience plays on a sense of scale and freedom of experimentation which is only possible in VR.

The starting point for creating this VR Wonderland was commissioned artwork by Kristjana S Williams, inspired by 19th-century paper peepshows and John Tenniel’s famous Alice illustrations. Bringing these 2D drawings to life in VR involved modelling 3D objects, texturing and developing custom shaders to produce the etching lines and illustrative shadows.

Preloaded used in-game techniques such as virtual props to help anchor the user’s field of vision. The experience was designed to avoid motion sickness and make visitors feel safe as they transform and travel between chapters throughout the story.

For accessibility, the Vive Hand Tracking SDK was used to create VR interactions that felt natural while staying true to the original story.

Design Studio: Preloaded
Creative Director: Phil Stuart
Associate Creative Director: Jon Caplin
Senior Producer: Nicky Borasinski
Client: V&A
Head of Digital Media: Kati Price
Senior Curator: Kate Bailey
Client: Vive Arts
Acting Director: Celina Yeh