RIYADH: Saudi tech pundits are putting the latest developments in artificial intelligence into the hands of players attending a major international festival in the Kingdom.
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) partnered with the Saudi Esports Federation for the Gamers8 event to be held in Riyadh to showcase the latest advances in augmented and virtual reality technologies.
And Ahmed Abdulrahman, the head of the immersive lab at Ithra’s Creative Solutions program, believes the futuristic AI seen in many current science fiction films could become publicly available within 5-10 years.
The technologies on display at the festival focus not only on games, but also on interactive and engaging experiences, entertainment and learning.
Abdulrahman pointed out that the type of VR gadget seen in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adventure film “Ready Player One” was now readily available. Ithra even had a tactile Tesla suit and glove (technology that can create a tactile experience by applying forces, vibrations and movements to the user) that audience members could test.
“We can put people in some games that use all the technologies together, where they can walk around and feel every hit in the game. It is a full immersion. It’s not 2045, it’s 2022, ”she told Arab News.
In Riyadh Boulevard City, where Gamers8 is in full swing, Creative Solutions’ GameDev zone features prototype games developed within 72 hours or less, in addition to the previous five winning projects from the program cohorts, as well as internationally developed video games.
While the available VR experiences aren’t fully equipped, they still allow visitors to get a general idea behind the engaging stories.
One of Ithra’s winning projects, “The Anticipation of Rain”, allows people to sense rain while wearing a VR headset. Her creator, Naima Karim, tells how she was paralyzed at a young age, but she discovered a love of painting through the influence of rain. “There were so many people who were touched, they just took off their headphones to cry,” Abdulrahman said.
Other AR projects take users on a journey through the history of the universe or on a quest to find hidden objects, similar to the mobile game “Pokemon GO”.
Next to the booths of the five winners in the area is a selection of internationally developed game programs, including “The Climb 2”, “Loco Dojo”, “Beat Saber” and a PS5 Playroom.
Filipe Gomez, curator of the Creative Solutions program, told Arab News: “There are developers aiming for a future where there will be no screens. Everything will be projected ”.
Amr Bogari, conceptual artist and artificial intelligence enthusiast, said: “This reflects a good mental image over time and is expected of our government, as it is a great advocate of this development and progress that advances humanity.
“But, in general, it depends on the use of a person. The abundance of technology can reduce the spiritual aspect, and this is true in many examples. Our role is to create a moderate space that combines reality and hypothesis ”.
On the GameDev zone, Gomez said, “The level of audience engagement has been incredible. For me, it really reflects a desire to learn, develop and prepare. The creativity is there.”
The Ithra program team aims to create unique experiences that can be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.
Abdulrahman said: “They are all proud. This is the only word I can say. Everyone who is trying them, when they see them, is simply amazed by the quality of the work even if we call them prototypes. “
And the goal of the program was to establish Saudi Arabia as the premier immersive hub in the region, and possibly the world.
“It is up to us and stakeholders like Ithra promoting a specific agenda that really cares about how people will be affected by this transformation, to prepare them to be good decision makers. When it comes to creative solutions, they create humanistic solutions, ”Gomez added.