Virtual reality tools provide escape for blocked youth in Gaza

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GAZA: The owner of Gaza’s first virtual reality gaming café offers a fantasy world of action, music and sports to young people who grew up under the blockade.

“Often many of the young people who come to play here are looking for an escape from the reality they live in,” said Firas Al-Khodary, the owner of VR Station in the city of Gaza.

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With travel options closed for most people due to years of border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt, the online realm is an outlet for young people hungry for entertainment and distraction.

“I move to cities, different places, mountains and oceans, cities that are impossible for us to visit,” says 22-year-old Youssef Al-Qudairi.

According to Al-Khodary, virtual action and fighting games are most popular among young men, while young women prefer sports, music and travel.

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“Since we are blocked and it is difficult to travel and move from one place to another, we come to VR and make up for all these things and live it in virtual reality,” said 16-year-old Nisreen Shamalakh as she said on her headphones.

(Written by Nidal Almughrabi; edited by Barbara Lewis)

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