In many Arab cities, young people on hot summer days sit in an air-conditioned video game cafe and compete on consoles.
A citizen of Egypt, Eslam Gamal, does the same. Eslam Gamal is a video game enthusiast who spent many hours playing video games.
Living in Cairo, Egypt, a city where there are almost no bars and pubs, Eslam enjoys playing and reaching a high score in games like Metal Slug.
Eslam had one complaint about the games that they portrayed Arabs as terrorists but this still never stops him from playing.
Almost all games make the mistake of perpetuating stereotypes of Arabs like showing Arab women as belly dancers and men playing the flute to charm a snake in games like Aladdin, and Arabian Fight.
But now time has changed. Now more global look has been adopted by Tv shows and Movies as now Arabs can be seen in mainstream titles.
In Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series, Altair Ibn-La’Ahad is still a Syrian Assasin but he has become an Arab hero, this has transformed Eslam’s gaming experience.
Now Assassin Creed is quickly becoming popular among Arab gamers because of its realistic Arab representation.
In 2021, according to a report on the gaming market in Asia and the Middle East, the Arab industry was estimated at $1.7bn and is now estimated to reach $3.12bn by 2025.
Many more games have also started portraying Arab characters as heroes, in the Dues Ex series, Faridah Malik is shown as a skilled pilot and the first recognizable Arab female protagonist in a game.
In the video game Tekken, Zafina has been introduced as an accomplished female fighter.
Ubisoft started tapping into the Arab Market in 2015 and Assassin Creed became the first mainstream game to be released fully localised for the Arab audience by adding Arabic speech, subtitles, localised user interface, and main screens to the game.
The founder of Tamatem Games [localises international video games], Hossam Hammo says:
“Localisation is not just translating a game, it is changing all aspects of a game, the object you use, the art of the game, the food, the clothes. Imagine playing a racing game and the road is your City.”
Mr. Hammo is a game enthusiast too and because of this, he started his own company with the vision to contribute to Arabic digital content.
A game developer at Tamatem, Mira Karout, has localised a game for the month of Ramadan like she added dates to the table, and decorated the room with Islamic textiles.
“We got a lot of positive feedback from the users, males and females, who are always happy to be better represented in the games they love.”
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