A BAFTA-WINNING Scottish virtual reality (VR) game is set to be translated into Old Scots and Gaelic. 

Aonar, developed by Austin Wolfe, won in the Immersive category at last year’s Young Bafta Student Awards in Los Angeles. 

The title means "alone" in Gaelic with the story focusing on a lonely lighthouse keeper and a selkie – a seal which can take human form – with the player intended to represent the main character’s sense of isolation.  

The game was developed by Wolfe, who is originally from the US but based in Scotland. He is currently pursuing a PhD in interactive storytelling in VR at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation. 

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“Most of the projects I work on are based on Scottish folklore. This one is quite sad but it is still a bit lighter than most”, he told The National. 

Wolfe had to beat off stiff competition to win his Bafta, with more than 700 schools and colleges submitting entries for consideration. 

Scottish voiceover artist Fiona McNeill provided the game’s narration. Originally from Gourock, she’s a member of folk rock band Reely Jiggered and her voice can be heard on several audio books and TV commercials. 

McNeill is also the first woman to have voiced BBC Scotland’s Sportscene football highlights. 

Although she’s loving the challenge of re-recording the game in different languages, she admits it is pushing her in a way other projects haven’t. 

She explained: “I learnt Spanish in school and did some French. With the band I’m in we perform all over the world so I often learn a lot of basics and being musical I think helps with that. 

“I’m not a Gaelic speaker but I’m willing to learn and I’ve done a lot for this. I’ve already done about half the game and probably won’t satisfy all the speakers but for me I should know Gaelic, I think all Scottish people should know it.

“I’m enjoying it but it is a challenge and a great opportunity for me, for Austin, the game and for the language in general.”

The project has been financed by the Scottish Government which will help pay for the game to be published and free to download. 

The National: Aonar tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and a selkieAonar tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and a selkie (Image: Austin Wolfe)

Wolfe is hopeful that it will be released in the new languages around March. Despite McNeill’s slight reservations about getting to grips with Gaelic, she is the only voiceover artist Wolfe chooses to work with. 

“She’s being humble because she’s doing a brilliant job. Honestly, her professionalism drew me in and working with somebody who is passionate about the work really helps as well.”

The VR developer has big aspirations for the technology’s future, as he said he wants to see it incorporated into educational settings such as museums. 

He said: “I don’t feel we have quite tapped into VR’s potential. We just need the equipment to keep developing and it is moving in the right direction. 

“VR experiences are becoming more accessible with cheaper headsets but it can be quite physically and mentally taxing, you can’t play it for very long. Aonar comes in at around the 20 minute mark.”

McNeill is happy to return the compliments to Wolfe. She explains that she teared up upon first seeing the game because it was so “beautiful”. 

The National: Fiona McNeill headed out to LA to pick up the game's Bafta awardFiona McNeill headed out to LA to pick up the game's Bafta award (Image: Fiona McNeill)

“That’s not just because my own voice was in there by the way”, she added, laughing.

She continued: “I had never experienced VR games until I met Austin. It’s as if you are in a film, you can touch certain things and it was a great new experience.”

The pair are set to continue working together on the next instalment of Wolfe’s VR experiences – titled The Isle – which McNeill will also narrate.