Watch: The Saudi prince who's challenging video game stereotypes

If the video above is blocked, you can view it here.

Commercial video games often show Middle Eastern people as the villains -- if they can tell the difference between different countries and languages at all. Prince Fahad Al Saud is aiming to help change that.

Fahad Al Saud grew up with games, but felt alienated by the portrayal of Arabs he often saw in the commercial medium. In response, he founded NA3M (New Arab Media), which pledges to make games that Saudi Arabians can relate to -- the group's upcoming Saudi Girls Revolution wants to create social impact for young women in particular. sgr

In the video above (or here, if you can't play the video in your region), Al-Jazeera's report from the recent Games for Change conference (I gave a keynote at the event in 2013) highlights Fahad Al Saud's work as part of a creative community aiming to address negative stereotypes about Middle Eastern people. Also in the video is Dutch-Egyptian developer Rami Ismail of Vlambeer, whose in-process project hopes to remove language barriers from the massive database of game development knowledge, tools and articles online. sgrconcept1

Notable Replies

  1. Girls' revolution? In a nation where women can't even drive?

  2. I was tempted to post something similarly snide about "Ah, yes, 'Saudi Prince' seeks to challenge stereotypes..."

    However, on consideration, it seemed unfair. Being born a prince is certainly an excellent choice as far as I-can't-control-where-I-was-born! outcomes go; but it's as true on the upside as it is anywhere else. The Saudi aristocracy as an institution are reactionary as hell; but J. Random Prince probably doesn't have much control over that.

    I'd be similarly inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt RE: women's rights, or lack thereof. His work may only qualify as 'well intentioned and hopefully helpful' rather than 'martyr for social justice'; but as long as he refrains from being the first and claiming to be the second, he's still scoring above average.

    I would say that we need to be alert to cosmetic talk-is-cheap measures being passed off as actual reform, and to people in positions of privilege overstating the nobility of merely doing the right thing; but that doesn't mean dismissing the work of those who do.

    There is a big difference between 'activist risks imprisonment/torture/disappearance to resist $INJUSTICE' and 'Guy does good, seeks to improve situation'; but as long as the latter refrains from demanding the accolades due to the former, he's still a good sort.

  3. I mean, it looks like the girls in his game can drive - they've got a car (and rocket launchers!).

    I'm suspicious of a male game dev claiming to fight for women's representation (I mean, why aren't there WOMEN game devs doing that?), but pushing the needle even slightly gives others the brain-space to push it more in the future, I'd hope.

  4. I was of two minds, posting that. Thinking it's a ludicrous irony is snide. But maybe he's being damn courageous, and is not long for this world.

  5. Ratel says:

    I doubt it. He's addressing "negative stereotypes", not actual problems for people in Saudi Arabia. I know that those negative stereotypes exist, but frankly, they're the least of Saudi Arabia's problems, and Saudi Arabia is very key to imposing a lot of those negative stereotypes onto surrounding countries.

    It's remarkable how the problems of a shitty, hateful culture seem to fade away when you're extremely rich.

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