Craftsmanship in virtual reality: digital development and evaluation of traditional South African beer brewing

Veronika Nemcova, Magnus Kornbeck Thomsen, Andrei Calin Mares, Mafor Penn, Umesh Ramnarain, Kasper Rodil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maintaining unique traditions and cultures is becoming increasingly difficult due to the effects of globalisation, combined with the fleeting nature of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). The continuation of ICH traditions relies on the awareness and interest of young people, as it is passed from generation to generation. This study aims to protect knowledge and skills – specifically traditional craftsmanship (TC), in the use case of South African beer (umqombothi) brewing – by exploring how to digitally represent and disseminate ICH using virtual reality (VR). In the beer-brewing prototype, participants become fully immersed in a digital South African community to learn the practice of brewing and experience the ICH contextual elements such as rituals and togetherness. The results show that short-term use of the VR prototype enables novice participants to learn essential aspects of community ICH and the beer-brewing practice. Furthermore, we emphasise the importance of evaluating the dissemination potential of safeguarding solutions by assessing their transfer back to everyday life. For this reason, this study also captures and successfully demonstrates an evaluation in which the participants re-enact what they recall from the VR playthrough using real lo-fi props used for brewing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-143
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Intangible Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • South Africa
  • beer brewing
  • embodiedlearning
  • evaluation
  • immersion
  • re-enactment
  • traditional craftsmanship
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Cultural Studies
  • Museology


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