“Stolen Friend” is an immersive cross-platform experience about Hoa Hakananai’a, the Moai statue displayed at the British Museum. It supports the idea of decolonization of the British Museum by exploring the story of Hoa Hakananai’a.
The storyline is non-linear by splitting the narrative structure into two with different endings based on the player’s decision of returning the Moai to Easter Island or keeping it at the Museum. It aims to trigger public discussion, by positioning the user as a character of half-British half-Rapa Nui descent who is given the task of saving the spirit of Hoa Hakananai'a from the British Museum. It contains an AR and VR experience, which are connected narratively when the player follows the bird spirit to find the birdman mask to put on the headset.
The AR experience at the British Museum aims to educate the public by taking them on a journey through the history of Hoa Hakananai’a and how it was transported from Easter Island 155 years ago, making its way to the British Museum today.
The VR experience brings the spiritual world alive and gives the player the birdman’s power to go on a quest to free the bird spirit from the museum. It also allows the player to interact and understand both sides, the British colonizers' and the bird spirits' arguments on the repatriation of the Hoa sculpture, giving the player a real choice to make.
Neeti Kumar - Interaction, Coding, Instagram Filter
Meghna Saji - Level Design, UI, Sound Effects, Interaction
Shujing Shen - 3D Modelling, 3D Animation, Rigging
Genre: Educational / Cross-Platform / Decolonization
Specifically Targeted Devices: Any Android Device, Oculus Quest 2
The story revolves around a tourist, who while visiting the British Museum in London, encounters the sculpture of Hoa Hakananai'a. Drawn by its enormity, they decide to take a picture of it, only to face the spirits of the Ahu Akivi - the seven explorers of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. These spirits reveal that the tourist is the lost heir of the Rapa Nui people and that in order to save their island, the tourist must free the spiritual energy (mana) of Hoa Hakananaia that emerges from the statue in the form of a bird.
The bird leads the tourist to the Birdman mask and once he puts it on, obtains its powers. They begin their quest as they maneuver through the spiritual realm of the museum while being pursued by the guardians, who try to dissuade them from their mission.
After getting past all the guardians, they finally reach a room with two portals, where they need to decide whether to save the island by taking the spirit out of the museum, or listen to the guardians and leave it in the museum. While one leads to the Easter Island rejoicing, and the Moai statues coming to life, dancing in celebration, the other leads to a dying Easter Island with crumbling statues.
Ahu Akivi Spirits
Clicking each one plays its dialogue, subtitles, and animation
Clicking one unlocks the next one
The first 6 can be replayed
Once 7th Ahu is clicked, can no longer hear the others
Next / Continue buttons
Aligning back carvings and clicking bird
Turn 360 to look at all Ahus
Walk to the back of the statue
Turn to follow the bird flying out of the statue
Mouth opening causes glowing eyes
Kava Kava Statue - Weapon
Picking up turns Hoa Hakananai’a statue and reveals the map
Raycast slows down the enemy and mutes its voice
Unlocks the portal
Protects the statues
Follows you and tells you why the bird spirit should be in the British Museum
Stops and takes you back to the start
Acts as a guide through the museum and the good Island
AR Instagram VR
Scan to try it yourself (@neetiart_)