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The NA3M (New Arab Media) Team 

When one thinks of catalysts of cultural change, Arabic video games are likely not the first thing that comes to mind. However, that could be quickly changing as game developers begin to see their audiences through a diverse cultural lens. This piece posted on the Gamasutra blog discusses how one Arab game company is working to change cultural perspectives through gaming.

During April’s Games for Change Festival in New York City, Arab prince, Fahad Al Saud took the stage to talk about how games and media have the power to redefine cultural perceptions of the Middle East and the world in general. It’s no secret that Middle Eastern Cultures have suffered a large amount of discrimination in recent years – an issue that Al Saud is very much aware of.  In this article from Polygon, a popular technology blog, he describes his own frustration with seeing negative Arab cultural stereotypes in games and media:

“I asked myself a whole bunch of perplexing, potentially paranoid questions," Fahad said in his keynote at the Games For Change Festival in New York last week. "Was this intentional? Why was I misrepresented like this so often? Is someone doing this on purpose, generally presenting me as some super-size, bearded, brown-skinned terrorist? I didn't know. I still don't know. All I knew at that point of realization was that I had to play my part in disrupting this narrative, in contributing with positivity, to this global story."

In order to tell a more positive “global story” about Arab culture, Al Saud turned to video games as his medium. The games his company, NA3M (New Arab Media), creates deal with a number of scenarios, including: camel racing, wordplay, and eventually, even issues of feminism and women’s liberation in the Muslim world.

In general, the goal of these games is to stop the global perception of Arab and Muslim people as some type of “other” and to humanize them to people around the world. "Our goal is to push and help elevate consciousness, to allow people to start thinking critically, to start discussing issues,” says Fahad, “Our goal is not to attack or create dialog that is telling people what they should do without listening to their viewpoint. 

Have you ever had a piece of media, such as a game, change your thoughts on a culture or experience? Share your insights in the comments below.

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