Video Games for Arab Countries which They can Truly Enjoy
When it comes to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Abu Dhabi, things are done differently. In the Middle East countries, where Arabic is a major language, and where religion has a major role to play in almost every aspect of life, rules are applied another way.
Video gaming industry is not an exception. As such Arab countries are considered as a late addition to its European work. English versions of games are transported to Arab countries or they are not, if they clash with the local rules about violence, alcohol or sexuality. A rating agency doesn’t exist because it is not needed! Local distributors are aware of exactly which games will give rise to concern and which ones will not. They are self-regulatory.
Of course if someone wants to buy an unofficially distributed game, s/he can do it easily. Even in a country like Saudi Arabia that observes laws and rules extremely seriously, little to no heed is paid to downloaded or imported video games, and people enjoy games they wish to.
In general, games that are in English are played here. However certain companies are interested to create Arabic versions of those games. E.g. FIFA games are converted to Arabic language and offer local leagues and teams, and merchandise like FIFA coins. These companies have established their offices for culturalization and localization in Arab countries and are revising games for the huge Arabic market through official channels.
These companies are also working on original content and are about to release it soon. But the biggest problem they face about localizing their games for this region is not the widespread cultural dissimilarities between Middle East and Western countries, but it’s the language and mainly the user interface. The way a Westerner sees while looking at the computer while playing a game, is not the way they look them there. This is something to learn about and try to incorporate in the game.
The main challenge is Arabic is read from right to left. Just translating an English game to Arabic won’t suffice. It is necessary to ensure that it reads right o left for localization. Culturalization concerns about where players here will look. While a Westerner will look at the left for a button, Arab players tend to look at the right for that.
So, games have to be reshaped entirely so as to be more compliant to Arabic reading habits. In short, they should learn how the Arabic look at the screen and what would be easy for them.
So, game-lovers in Arab countries can expect to get their choice of games in the near future that they will enjoy in a true sense.