Prince Faisal at FII Priority: Gaming thrives in Saudi Arabia, offering new careers
The Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan highlighted, in a panel at the FII Priority summit in Miami, the positive aspects of gaming, its increasing popularity in Saudi Arabia and how it is opening up new career paths for the next generation.
He discussed the shift from pay-to-play to free-to-play models, as well as the advent of new technologies enabling gamers to earn money. He also emphasized the role of the younger generation in driving innovation and the importance of providing them with the necessary tools.
Prince Faisal said: “With the advent of new technologies, new social medias, Web3, you’re starting to move from free-to-play to paid-to-play, where actually playing becomes the way you earn money, not just the way you spend money… This next generation, they are living [the new trend]; they are the ones that are pushing the innovation. Our job, and what we are doing in Saudi Arabia and globally, is putting the tools in place for them to take it and run with it, and take the lead, and we can get out of their way.”
He also mentioned the growth of indie gaming, with more diverse stories and accessible tools for game creation. Comparing revenues between the film and gaming industries, he noted the immense reach of gaming on a global scale.
He emphasized his point with an example: “When we talk about the interaction between media, TV, film, music, gaming is bigger than all three combined… To break it down to its simplest terms: Avatar was one of the biggest movie franchises of all time and its revenues have almost reached $3 billion. [Meanwhile], Pokémon – the game – is one of the more popular games, not the most, but one of the more popular games. Its revenues have reached around $90 billion in the same amount of time. The reach is just in a different scale.”
He discussed the topic of inclusivity in gaming, stating that in Saudi Arabia, the gaming community is almost evenly split between men and women, and online personalities and streamers have similar gender ratios. However, there is still room for improvement in the professional gaming arena, especially for female players. The success of Najd Fahd, who won the collegiate FIFA world ladies championship and became the Kingdom’s first international champion, serves as an inspiration for young Saudi women.
“She is one of our role models to showcase that this is a valid career path, not just for our young men, but also for our young women. And what we need to do is give more room for our young men and women to showcase that they are the heroes of the future and let them be the voice of the next generation,” Prince Faisal said.
He went on to emphasize the need to showcase esports and gaming as valid career paths, not only for professional players but also for those interested in game creation, storytelling, production, law, and finance. He also stressed the importance of addressing the physical, mental, and social health of young gamers, using esports as a tool to develop their skills and prepare them for future opportunities.
“And once our young men and women see that this a valid career path… we can showcase to them the healthy way to do it and move forward, and we focus on that consistently in Saudi Arabia: we talk about not just the physical health, [but also] the mental health and the social health.”
“We [can] use this as a tool to give them a career for the future, and not just as a professional eSports player but in the industry… There are so many different avenues that literally anything you have a passion for, anything that you enjoy doing, there’s a career path within gaming for it.”
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