Created by Picture This Productions’ director Charlotte Mikkelborg, in consultation with the Mary Rose’s Head of Research, Dr Alex Hildred, and expert in multisensory history Dr Hannah Platts (Royal Holloway, University of London), the game turns players into Time Detectives, investigating the sinking of the Mary Rose on 19th July 1545, which claimed the lives of almost all the 500 soldiers and sailors on board. Using a mobile phone as a magical spyglass to reveal secrets from the past, players follow a trail based on their chosen character, collecting and interrogating clues to solve the mystery and complete their mission for the king.
When using the app in the Mary Rose Museum, visitors are given backpacks containing an innovative scent device developed by experts in multisensory technology at Owidgets. These automatically trigger scent at key moments in the evolving story. For example, when players are asked to fire the cannon, they quite literally smell the gunpowder.
Charlotte said: “At Picture This, we specialise in multisensory experiences. We have created multisensory virtual reality and immersive installations like ‘Fly’ for British Airway’s centenary. But this is a world first in terms of being multisensory augmented reality. Players of Time Detectives: The Mystery of the Mary Rose use their phones to step back in time 500 years to meet the crew in augmented reality, while scent will further immerse them in the story of the sinking as it unfolds.”
In collaborating to develop the historical multisensory features of the game, Dr Hannah Platts, of Royal Holloway, University of London commented: “Smell is intriguing. Smell encourages us to develop memories and has a very strong role in how we engage with our surroundings. When combined with other senses of sound and sight, together they give audiences the chance to experience the past from different perspectives, allowing visitors to connect with the diverse voices that make up our vibrant history and heritage.”
Dr Alex Hildred, Head of Research at the Mary Rose, said: “This game engages people in a completely new way with our collection – they become part of the story. Transported back in time, eavesdropping into conversations and interactions between key members of the crew, they gather information - ‘clues’ - to enable them to present their case. This requirement makes them use the collection in a completely novel way and to think critically about historical sources. This roller-coaster journey through history is a one-of-a-kind experience within the museum, but can also be used as an engaging learning tool at home or in the class-room.”