Alwaleed Philanthropies is a non-profit organization that works on projects and campaigns with the sole purpose of creating a positive impact on humanity worldwide. With one of their key areas of impact being “Bridging Cultures”, they wanted to take advantage of World Tolerance Day to reach a wider audience by being the first Philanthropy to exist in the metaverse.
On November 16, we launched their curated space, titled A Boundless Journey, on Decentraland. The end result is a journey through an 8 floor space, which takes users through an interactive exhibit of cultural and artistic projects from a variety of their partners.
AlWaleed Philanthropies’ mission is to create impact beyond borders, irrespective of gender, race or religion. With that in mind, we felt that the Metaverse, a decentralized place that is designed to reach a public beyond reach, was the perfect place to host a virtual exhibit that would reflect the power of art and culture as a tool of empowerment and integration.
We started by identifying the core drivers of the brand being in the metaverse, and the key messages they wanted to communicate. With that we crafted a manifesto as a guiding pillar for the experiences they want to host in their Decentraland space. We then curated 8 pieces inspired by Islamic cultures from all around the world, from woodwork crafted by local Saudi artisans, to unique sound pieces inspired by the patterns on Islamic carpets.
With their partners on board, providing us the content necessary for each project piece, we moved onto curating the space and planning the user’s experience. After a lot of research into the Do’s and Don'ts of Decentraland (heads up, stairs are a no-go), and spending a lot of time experiencing other event spaces on the platform, we began with planning our own.
With the help of an architectural designer, we were inspired by the concept of interwoven pieces, the pieces being brought together through curved ramps as if they are weavings. We knew the elements we had to incorporate -including the main floor where the users need to be introduced to the brand and purpose of the experience- and with the help of an architect, we sketched multiple iterations of the space, ultimately choosing one and developing it to the final version.
We then tackled each room separately, after laying out the available content and any additional content we could produce for each - we asked to produce interviews and photoshoots for a few of the rooms. We wanted to take advantage of the physics-defying aspects of Decentraland, so we decided to bring the pieces to life by augmenting and animating them, creating a unique feel in each room, complemented by specific audio tracks for each.
This project was truly a challenge, and its process took a lot of back and forth. Although we had known the limitations of the space, calculating the amount of textures, materials and usable triangles we could work with, we still needed to figure out how to work to optimize them. We also needed to adjust the space to be user friendly, and create intrigue through a quest-like game that pushed the users to explore the entire space, collecting Value Words in order to unlock a custom POAP - an incentive we knew would work on many visitors.