Rox’n’Roll Dubai, Insomnia, Gbarena… Events and platforms dedicated to gaming and eSport are flourishing throughout the Middle East, which is both a promising market for the development of the sector and a pool of young talent to feed the video game industry.
“Our ambition is that this industry will represent 1% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030. It is 80 billion riyals, which is about 20 million dollars. Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia is not afraid of words. This passionate gamer, responsible for the Federation of Intellectual and Electronic Sports of Saudi Arabia, has set himself the mission of developing the video game industry and especially eSport in his country.
When you talk to young people, it is very easy to get excited about their abilities and talents, and it is an honor to have the opportunity to help them develop this industry and create something in Saudi Arabia where we can be a world leader. We are in a situation where the community is very strong. And what we are responsible for doing is working with our partners to help bring the industry together.
A passionate youth
In the Middle East as elsewhere, young people swear by video games. Between League of Legends, Fortnite, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, or FIFA, there is no shortage of brands, which organize tournaments with more than attractive prize money. Making millions of dollars by practicing your favorite hobby is a fantasy for many teenagers, but one that is reserved for only a handful of elected officials. Thus, just as in sport (where a tiny percentage of candidates reach the highest level), young people must have a plan. Zax Chou, CEO of Famulei, China’s largest eSport community, it is important to have a sense of priorities: “Above all, you have to work hard to get a degree and enter a good university, even if you are first and foremost a player”. However, such passion is a sign that the market is mature and ripe for the taking.
Opportunities for all
There are jobs for all profiles,” says Prince Faisal. “Whether as a professional player – which is very rare and concerns only 1% of all players – but also in game creation, marketing, event management… Whatever skills you have, this industry needs them. There are so many different aspects that need to develop, and my task is to create an infrastructure that will allow these talents to develop.
He will undoubtedly be able to use the already very promising progress made around the world, as in the United Kingdom where, as Chester King, President of the British eSports Association, explains: “We started 3 years ago and are now in all schools and universities in the United Kingdom, we are creating university courses in eSports, exams in eSports, and we are already seeing improvements”. Education as a lever to democratize eSport, a way forward in the Middle East?