Private Project

The Pirate Queen - Episode One


(Creators: Eloise Singer, Maja Bodenstein, Hankun Yu, Dave Ranyard).

A widowed woman takes over her husband's pirate fleet and becomes the most powerful pirate in history, commanding 70,000 men during the lead up to the Opium Wars.


Step into the shoes of Cheng I Sao and find yourself in the captain's cabin on the Night of Succession. Marvel at a vast array of artefacts – from grand treasures fit for a Qing court to the everyday objects of pirate life.

With the help of Cheng I Sao's loyal second Cheung Po Tsai, discover objects throughout the cabin that reveal your past and outwit those trying to undermine your claim as Leader of the Fleet.

  • Eloise Singer
    Rare Beasts, The Take Down
  • Maja Bodenstein
  • Maja Bodenstein
  • Eloise Singer
    Rare Beasts, The Take Down
  • Orion Lee
    Key Cast
    "Cheung Pot Tsai"
    First Cow
  • Rebecca Yeo
    Key Cast
    Stan and Ollie, Strangers
  • Will Brosch
    Lead Artists
  • Dr Dave Raynard
    Key Collaborators
    Hold the World
  • Project Type:
    Virtual Reality
  • Minimum Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Maximum Runtime:
    35 minutes
  • Average Runtime:
    28 minutes
  • Variable Runtime Details:
    It is an interactive puzzle game, the run time varies on the speed of the user at solving the puzzles.
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2021
  • Language:
  • Student Project:
  • Raindance Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    September 27, 2021
    National (Preview)
    WINNER: Best Interactive Debut. NOMINATED: Best interactive Experience
Director Biography - Eloise Singer, Maja Bodenstein

Maja Bodenstein is a London-based storyteller of Chinese/German heritage, fluent in English, German, Mandarin. In 2020 she was selected as an inaugural BEATS Screenwriting Fellow 2020, as part of a mentoring scheme aimed at British East Asian writers and directors backed by ScreenSkills and the BFI. She is developing 'The Pirate Queen' as a TV series with Singer Studios ('Rare Beasts') and Seesaw Films ('The Farewell'), as well as a feature film with Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor’s Joi Productions based on an original spec script.

Eloise Singer is multi-award winning filmmaker, best known for executive producing Billie Piper’s critically acclaimed 'Rare Beasts' and the upcoming film 'The Last Rifleman' starring Pierce Brosnan. Singer's work has shown at festivals around the world including Venice, London, SXSW, Raindance and Sundance: London. She is currently producing and directing a 3 part documentary series with XYZ Films and Library Films ('The Tiger King', 'Fyre').

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

MAJA BODENSTEIN (Writer & Co-Director)

THE PIRATE QUEEN was my first time working in VR and completely changed my perception of scope and possibilities of storytelling in VR. I was immediately drawn to the project due to my heritage and my upbringing in Hong Kong, where the pirates are well-known folk heroes.

My ambition was to deliver a story authentically Chinese to a Western audience unfamiliar with the period in question (mid-Qing dynasty) whilst keeping it engaging on a gameplay level.

It felt important that both characters and this complex period of history, particularly the interactions of the British Empire and Qing Dynasty which would lead to the Opium Wars, were portrayed with nuance and avoided clichés or easy generalisations.

Writing and Co-Directing the game gave me an huge amount of insight into the process of creating VR story worlds and has been invaluable experience.

Eloise Singer (Producer & Co-Director)

The Pirate Queen is a story widely unknown. A widowed woman who takes over her husband's pirate fleet to become the most powerful pirate in history. A woman who commanded 70,000 men during the lead up to the Opium Wars (the largest fleet ever), and yet the most famous pirate we know is Blackbeard.

The story of Cheng I Sao feels like one that has been swept under the carpet alongside discussions of accountability in relation to the Opium Wars, we were driven to create this VR experience to draw back the carpet and bring this astonishing character and her journey to light. It's an experience that gives an insight into a formidable leader, the obstacles she faced and the historical time period she lived in.

The Pirate Queen is an interactive VR game funded by Creative England and supported by BFI ScreenSkills.