Dubai Hosts Conference on Promoting Online Gaming in the Emirates

DubaiMap The Orc you partner with in Razorfen Kraul could soon be an Arab Prince.

Al Bawaba, a Middle Eastern news service, announced Dubai's plan to host a special conference with a focus on licensing online games through major companies in an effort to create a new generation of gamers in the Middle East.

Looks like the open range of the Metaverse may be getting a culture shock.

Harnessing the Brand Identity of Avatars

From the Al Bawaba article:

“Massively Multiplayer War Stories”, “How to build
the future game industry”, “Today Dubai, Tomorrow the World”,
“Introducing Habitual Video Gaming to the Region”, “Online Games in the
Region”, “the advancements in In-Game Advertising”, “Social Networks /
Virtual Worlds” among other major issues related to gaming industry
will be presented during Dubai World Game Summit.

What's interesting here is the seminar on "Introducing Habitual Video Gaming to the Region" – if the descriptions of the seminars are correct, developers in Middle Eastern nations are attempting to turn their population on to virtual gaming by partnering with businesses that are already familiar to the potential gaming audience.

Think of it as the same thing major cereal companies did with this generation of Americans. Who remembers Chex Quest, the thinly-veiled DOOM reskin?

The exceptionally cheesy Chex Quest may not have secured much brand loyalty for a boring cereal, but the game is a cult hit. Originally a partnership between General Mills and AOL, the game went through several popular download-only sequels.

People who never touched DOOM, then, got their taste of the first-person shooter genre through a family-friendly corporate licensed remake. It's safe to imagine some of those Chex Questers are now Halo players.

Diversifying the Dubai Economy

This is the same strategy the Dubai Conference hopes to harness, introducing gamers in the United Arab Emirates to multiplayer games through the prism of familiar consumer brand names. Could this diversification into a booming worldwide industry have anything to do with the sharply declining value of Dubai's oil exports?

It would make sense. Dubai's economic surplus – heavily oil-weighted – evaporated when oil prices fell 50% during the initial stages of the worldwide economic slowdown. Even if diversification of Dubai's economy into game development and the tech industry takes years, the reduced risk would be worth the effort.

Could the widespread adoption of virtual worlds across the Middle East lead to the kind of cross-cultural dialogue Rita King discussed in her paper, "Digital Diplomacy?" If so, all the better.