JEDDAH: The Virtual Reality Zone came into its own at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah on Saturday, showcasing 10 different projects, six of which were directed by women, ranging from video games to stories and art galleries.
Liz Rosenthal, the curator of the zone, said that in terms of telling stories, the VR medium “is in a league of its own.”
She told Arab News: “Virtual reality is many different things. One project is entirely different from another.
“Unlike movies, where you know that it has a beginning, middle, and an end on a flat screen, in VR you may be doing something with one person, two, or 100.”
The curator is seeking to show what is possible within the VR world. The projects were chosen with the Saudi audience in mind.
She added: “We make sure that we have something for everyone, so there are things for younger people, families and people who have different tastes.”
The VR scene in Saudi Arabia is still predominantly a medium for the young.
Rosenthal said: “Even in countries like the UK, in the European region, (even in) the biggest companies, it is still too young.
“Ithra in Saudi Arabia started a year-and-a-half ago and they have made their projects, so that’s really great to see that Saudi is trying to appear on the map for VR products.”
Rosenthal added that it is important to develop further as the VR world needed people with the knowledge and tools to tell stories and create experiences into the future.
She said: “In some ways it is easier to come into a new medium because there is less of a structure stopping people, compared to something that has been going on for years like the cinema.
“It is difficult to break in, but here people are so much more welcoming.
“Another thing you need to understand is that it is real time; you are interacting with things that are around you.
“You need a lot of skills to create a good experience. Being just one thing is not enough: you need to be a good artist, a good architect, and much more.”
A recent development has been a gaming project called “Eggscape,” a multiplayer game. It allows the player to see through the lens of a VR headset and into their own surroundings. The game then projects characters and the player interacts.
Rosenthal said the game shows the future potential of VR, and the direction in which the medium is going.