How developers can change global culture, one game at a time
"By producing games about and for the benefit of the Arab world, a void is filled for under-serviced audiences...young, enthusiastic developers are able to highlight, share and celebrate their culture."
- Na3m Games founder Fahad Al Saud on the value he sees in nurturing Middle Eastern game development.
During last week's Games For Change festival in New York, Prince Fahad Al Saud took the stage to shed some light on the power games and other popular media have to shape human culture, both in the Middle East and the world at large.
"Popular media rhetoric has taken to defining everything that does not conform to the perceived norm as 'other,'" lamented Al Saud in his keynote speech, attended by Polygon. "Few nations and peoples are more notably attached to this label than those of the Arab world."
The prince went on to recount his efforts to promote the Middle East in global culture, most notably in his time working at Facebook on an Arabic version of the social network and through his multi-faceted funding company Na3m.
Through its Na3m Games division, Al Saud believes his company can enact meaningful cultural change by supporting local game makers and pushing their work out to the world at large. To do so, Na3m is funding local developers and publishing their games (like Caravan Master, pictured) to mobile marketplaces, where it's easier to circumvent governmental restrictions and reach a broad audience.
During the conference Al Saud claimed Na3m Games is working with 25 developers hailing from 16 different countries, and he hopes to see that number double in the year ahead.
"Now is the time to engage and to share and to build relationships between people through a game," said Al Saud. "[A game] that may be telling a story about one person but really can be shared by everyone."
Further comments from both Al Saud and Na3m general manager Ryan Riegg can be found in Polygon's report from the conference.