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Always game, Part I
From World of Warcraft to Whack the Penguin, online gaming is a global phenomenon. And slowly but surely, the Middle East is playing its part, reports Communicate magazine. Part I.
December 15, 2009 12:11 by Rania Habib
“I went to the expo last year, and I was a little disappointed,” says Dimitri Metaxas, regional executive director of digital at OmnicomMediaGroup. “It’s a bit of a mixed bag of companies dipping their toes in the industry, so you get a sense that there is no clear industry direction.” Rami El Hussein, managing director of games distributor Pluto, also believes the expo is not up to par, and agrees that the regional gaming industry “needs a lot of coordination.”
But with regional gaming companies such as Tahadi and Vertex from the UAE, Joybox from Syria, and Maysalward from Jordan all at the Dubai Games Expo, there are signs of movement taking place, particularly in the direction of localization and culturalization. Tahadi Games has done that with Ragnarok, a widely popular MMORPG based on Viking myths.
With 48 million users worldwide, the game is available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, and Tahadi Games has now localized it and produced an Arabic version, where references to magic are eliminated and the characters’ dress code is altered to fit cultural norms. Tahadi Games has also localized another popular MMORPG, Runes of Magic, expected to be released early next year, as well as Crazy Kart, a racing game that will have maps of Dubai and Cairo.
Another company following the “culturalization” trend is Gamepower 7, a Dubai-based gaming company. Fadi Mujahid, general manager, says localizing international games is very important. “We recently acquired the license for Rappelz, a game very similar to World of Warcraft,” he says.