Pause, play, fast forward: It’s more than just a game
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Pause, play, fast forward: It’s more than just a game

Pause, play, fast forward: It’s more than just a game

As nations, communities and social gathering were put on pause, gaming offered a window to another world

Gulf Business
UAE 5G devices

In early 2020, as the world around us came to an abrupt halt, there was one sector that found itself catapulted on to the center stage.

With limited mobility and more time on their hands, across the globe more people were reaching for the joystick- some even for the first time – making the gaming industry one of the fastest-growing forms of entertainment over the last 24 months.

Today this thriving, mega-dollar industry is emerging to be a gamechanger and shaping a future that is both inclusive and rewarding.

Pause: A window to an inclusive world
Many took to gaming to connect with the outside world. As nations, communities and social gathering were put on pause, gaming offered a window to another world. Some approached it to support their physical and emotional well-being, others reached out to pass the time or learn a new skill, some simply to remain connected and be a part of a lively community. The uncertain pandemic timeline brought many first-timers to the gaming fold and helped the industry grow in leaps and bounds.

This growth and transformation of the industry has resulted in a new gamer profile, breaking the old myth that the players are primarily males and are isolated from a social life. Today there are no gender or age barriers to becoming a videogame fanatic and more people are playing to relax, for entertainment and to reduce stress.

For instance, a global report from Alienware and Researchscape titled, ‘State of Gaming’ showed that most gamers are dynamic and balanced. The players don’t just focus on playing at a high level, but also give priority to relating with other players. One out of every four gamers surveyed have made new friends (26 per cent), have gotten closer to friends who play (25 per cent) and have made close ties through video games (25 per cent), proving that videogames can unite people in an incredibly unique way.

Play: Dynamic industry growth
In the Middle East, the gaming culture is constantly growing and is proving to be an important market for this segment. The sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.1 per cent between 2021-2026, according to market estimates with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain emerging as top markets for gamers and streamers. The local gaming and esports community also continues to proliferate with homegrown streamers who have garnered loyal fans and built a close-knit group of dedicated subscribers. In the YouTube gaming world, UAE and Saudi Arabia rank among the top 10 global markets with a highly engaged audience comprising both men and women across age groups.

This fervor and appetite for localised content can be further witnessed in the number of dedicated industry events taking place annually, including Middle East Games Con, Dubai Girl Gamer eSports Festival and Insomnia Gaming Festival. As the industry expands, one can expect many more regional gamer and streamer talents to emerge alongside tailored Arabic gaming content designed specifically for the region.

Fast forward: Game loading…
So, how is the sector which shape shifted, especially in the last 24 months, going to evolve in the coming years? The industry is expected to move further and turbocharge its growth in the near future. With around 70 per cent of the Middle East population under the age of 30 years and with approximately 100 million gamers in the Middle East, the industry is expected to go mainstream and see its usage moving beyond virtual gaming rooms and into classrooms, businesses, and eventually define the future of work.

Gaming in education will help address learning difficulties, support collaboration and build truly impactful inclusive knowledge-sharing environments. Over the next decade, organisations will empower workers by cultivating real-time collaboration practices that are embedded in gaming, coding and distributed communities. Skills such as strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, response time, teamwork and leadership capabilities, honed through gaming, will be highly regarded in the professional world.

Locally, coding gaming technologies will not only open job opportunities in a digital economy but also nurture aspiring young talent and future global champions. Furthermore, this widespread usage will also see the sector tapping into fast growing technologies such as 5G, edge, cloud computing and artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the amount of data generated, gaming will become a significant user of these technologies. From the latest processors to powerful discrete graphics cards, they make every experience more intense and real. Today, gaming laptops and desktops can render the incredible visuals that many modern games are known for. However, new games are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to beauty and complexity and cutting-edge gaming requires cutting-edge machines that are engineered with the specific, demanding needs of the gaming audience in mind.

The future for gamers is here. The stereotype we once had about gamers is now in the past. Today a gamer is dynamic, social, and successful. And just like the adrenaline-packed video game technology, the regional player’s profile is continually innovating – and ‘loading’.

Utkarsh Pandey is the category manager – Middle East at Dell Technologies

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