According to NourMerza of Reuters, the Middle East is seeing a growth in the video game industry that might continue to push forward over the next couple of years. About 60 percent of the 350 million population in the Arab nations are not even 25 years old yet, with 70 million of those already online. The growth of internet users is over 300 percent during the last five years.
It might come as a surprise that there are at least six Arab video game companies that have already received funding from investors. The demand: to make games with local characteristics in order to relate better with their own people.
One of these companies is called Peak Games, where co-founder Rina Onur says that the people what to see their own heritage reflected in current games. Even companies like EA are starting to update games with alternative Arabic versions. For example, EA Sports will be making an Arabic version of FIFA Soccer.
The main focus as of now is for Arab developers to change the image projected by military-type games that are developed in the U.S. There are many games where the point is to kill off as many Arab terrorists as you can. That is just about the only screen time someone of that ethnicity will ever get.
Developers want to show a more positive image for the Middle East that will be reflected in games that will be played by their own people and will try to deviate from the usual stereotyping. While I know for a fact that Arabs aren’t the only ones who get stereotyped in video games, do you believe the concept of ‘separate but equal’ will work in this case? Will an alternative version of a game be just as good as the original? While I am having my doubts, I do understand the frustration.