Games for Change in Bahrain: Developing an XR Arcade for SDGs

 

Games for Change curated a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) focused XR Arcade in Bahrain last week at the 2018 Youthfull Festival. The conference was organized by the Bahrain Ministry of Youth & Sport Affairs, and was held October 21-25, 2018. Attendees included youth leaders from across the world working to promote sustainable development in their communities. We were excited to have met young leaders from Kenya, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Colombia, USA, The Netherlands, Serbia, and many other countries.

 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. The SDGs are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the environment. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Learn more about the goals here.

 

 
After the success of the Immersive Arcade at the XR for Change Summit during the G4C Festival in New York in June 2018, G4C is now curating many XR arcades featuring experiences and installations on positive social impact and global issues. This Festival was a perfect opportunity to curate a UN SDG focused arcade with an experience on each goal. The G4C team had only a few weeks to curate experiences that matched each goal, were suitable for a young, global audience, and free to show at a public event. We were able to find an XR experience for each goal thanks to the support of Oculus VR for Good; Participant Media; UNVR; UN Foundation, charity: water; MSF/DWB; and Within.


From the beginning, we had a goal to show a wide variety of experiences shot in various parts of the world. Ground Beneath Her (Goal 1 – No Poverty), produced by UNDP took the viewer to Nepal to shadow a 14 year old girl balancing school and work in post-earthquake Nepal. Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy was showcased by Amor de Abuela (A Grandmother’s Love), an Oculus VR for Good experience made in partnership with the Global BrightLight Foundation and Jessie Hughes, which takes the viewer to Guatemala where a family’s life is transformed after their grandmother gains access to electricity.

 

 

One SDG that was a bit tough to pick an experience for was Goal 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure. However, we were lucky enough to come across The Possible: Hello, Robot by David Gelb via Within. This rare look inside the Boston Dynamics robotics lab proved to be very popular, especially among younger audiences. One XR docent described the piece as unique in its vision for tomorrow when juxtaposed with many of the other experiences in the Arcade which mostly concerned themselves with the various developmental issues of today.

 

The Arcade was a very popular part of the Youthfull Festival, even amongst the incredible variety of experiential offerings throughout the event. There were interactive booths with various inventions by local youth; talks and panels on the SDGs by reputed business and innovation leaders; Model United Nations sessions; soccer matches; and of course, a diverse collection of delicious food trucks with international and local cuisine. In addition to the global youth leaders and students from across Bahrain, we were also visited by ministers from Bahrain and UAE who stressed the importance of using new and emerging technologies to educate and inspire the youth.  

 

 

We are extremely grateful to have been invited to the event and were so impressed with the hospitality, kindness and excitement we were greeted with in Bahrain. A special thank you to the organizing team of the Festival, as well as the Ministry of Youth & Sport Affairs, and the fantastic team at VR Solutions (Arcade) in Bahrain.

 

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