JEDDAH: The gaming community in the Kingdom is looking to gain recognition internationally and enrich the field of electronic sports (esports), which has only recently emerged in the country since the social and economic changes under the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.
“Gaming championships are just as important as any sports championships. Worldwide, it’s called electronic sports. In the Kingdom, they only call it video gaming,” 38-year-old Saudi insurance claims manager and gaming enthusiast Wajdi Kamal told Arab News.
He said Turki Al Sheikh, president of the General Entertainment Authority, recognized the global popularity of esports when he was president of the General Sports Authority.
“There are Olympic teams in this field and big international championships taking place in this type of sport,” said Kamal.
“So he (Al Sheikh) thought, ‘why not create a team for this?’ Now Saudi Arabia is among the list of best gamers globally within just a few months.”
Kamal said Saudi gamers are reaching out to gaming communities worldwide. “We’ve learned from them, and some of us have surpassed the expectations and experiences of some gaming idols,” he added.
“These Saudi gamers watched them, followed them and learned everything from them, and in some matches they beat them, their teachers.”
The Saudi gaming community has expanded in the last couple of years, said Kamal, adding: “There are talents and skills we never knew existed.”
25-year-old Saudi digital artist Rosanne Basaad, who would like to take up a career in the gaming industry, told Arab News: “Video games have made me widely creative, and since I got into it I started working on concept art, character designs and creating my own adventures and stories. One of my goals is to share such skills and creations to work with the gaming industry.”
Basaad said: “I started playing video games from a young age when my mom introduced me to a game called ‘Crash Bandicoot’.”
She added: “I’ve always been extremely fascinated by how a world can be displayed on such a small device. I’d consider this one of my greatest hobbies, and would like it to grow into something more, and work with such a community.”
25-year-old Saudi computer engineering student Abdul Aziz Wahbi told Arab News: “My older brothers bought a SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) when I was 4 years old, and ever since I’ve been interested in gaming as a hobby.”
He said: “I’ve been buying almost every console released by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. I find gaming to be incredibly competitive and extremely fun, especially if I’m competing against my friends.”
Wahbi has made plans to start a YouTube channel about gaming, combined with his major. “This channel will target the Saudi gaming audience and introduce them to videos about how to make their gaming life easier by making their own accessories. My channel will also be including videos that target comic book fans, movie fans and cosplayers,” he added.