Middle East Gaming Industry: Our industry, Our choice!
Growing up in the middle east is far from what the western world thinks. We didn't ride camels to school nor get lost under Burj Khalifa because of a bad sandstorm in the middle of the day. Growing up here was exciting; challenging yet rewarding. I still remember one foggy morning at 6:30am getting on the school bus, looking my friend in the eye and without saying a word to him, he smirked like he had read my mind. In a way, he had! We both knew that between the 3rd and 4th period we would be on the other side of the school wall, Shawshank Redemption style if you ask me. Well after we executed our perfect escape plan, we headed to the nearest gaming café! This is where it all started, not just for me but for a lot of gamers in this region. What started as a hobby and a stress relief exercise became a lifestyle to so many people.
While the regions growth rate was the fastest in the world, none of our researchers nor economic experts shed any light on it. Even though some news media outlets did cover it to an extent, there was never an extensive analysis on the subject. I am no Sherlock by any means; however, an investigation was required and I felt compelled to do it! I've met with the few community leaders and company owners that I could find online. While most of them were in the industry out of passion, it was without numbers to back their ideas and concepts. There is nothing wrong with following passions, but for this to reach the next phase, government involvement, we knew we needed something solid. After a year and a half of extensive research and market study including meeting with industry experts, international calls and sending the team to E3, we had it as solid as Vibranium, and we went for it! Our first meeting was with a business analyst that represents a government accelerator program. After 3 meetings and 2 months of work and assignments, he confronted us for not targeting Nike and Adidas?! He thought the GAMING INDUSTRY was a part of the sports industry! He didn't ask nor do simple research to understand the basic fundamentals of our case. We then knew that he was not qualified to hold such a position just from the way he handled our case. Unfortunately, we ran into the likes of this guy a lot while exploring these spaces. Couple that with a culture where it is strongly believed that playing games only yields a negative impact, it is only recreational and childish, it makes you slower, and a lot of other other myths. We knew we were up against quite the challenge. Not only was this going to entail the development of an entire industry, but also the transformation of an entire cultural understanding of that market. We had our work cut out for us, needless to say we are the "Git Gud" generation, and just like dark souls and sekiro taught us, what doesn't kill you, makes you respawn at the nearest checkpoint.