Postcards from the VR Arcade

Virtual reality directors at the Tribeca Film Festival are blazing a path to the future of storytelling

Unceded Territories, about indigenous tribes and colonialism, asked participants to don some unusual VR headgear. (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)

The Real Space

Designed nothing like an arcade and more like a bizarre flea market, the Virtual Arcade is a collection of enclosed rooms on one side and open-space kiosks on the other. Before walking the corridor, though, I turned right and found a mid-sized room set aside for something called Gymnasia from Clyde Henry Productions. Like a number of other VR experiences in the arcade, the directors and creators spent considerable time and effort building real-world visuals and experiences to complement their VR narratives.

Inside the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Reality Arcade (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)
The room where I viewed Gynmasia. (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)
A Drop in the Ocean’s VR experience was in the center of this structure. (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)

As You Like It

There was no discernable larger theme in the virtual arcade, which meant you could easily find a VR experience about war, like War Remains from Dan Carlin and MWM Immersive, or a director’s recreation of his own ayahuasca experience (Ayahuasca from Jan Kounen) next to a scale-model of Doctor Who’s Tardis.

We three companions. (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)
The Key director Celine Tricart. (Photo courtesy Tribeca Film Festival)
Outside The Key VR experience. (Photo: Lance Ulanoff)

Line Up

I was surprised at some of the limits I encountered at the Arcade. More than once, I found myself queuing up to try an experience where there were just two available VR headsets and, in other cases, getting turned away because the VR experience was fully booked. If Tribeca’s goal was for the masses to experience the future of storytelling in VR, it should’ve brought in thousands more headsets.

This is what we all looked like, lost in our own VR worlds. (Photo courtesy Tribeca Film Festival)

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store