I had a fantastic time being part of the Dubai World Game Summit (DWGS) earlier this month. I was invited to be a speaker at the event, particularly sharing my experience with the local and global game development communities. The whole thing happened in Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) for two days straight, that’s the 3rd and 4th of November 2015.
Few images below are courtesy of Index and Tariq Mukhtar, for the record.
Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC)
It was really amazing to have another game development event in my calendar this year. Especially after the MEGA event that was held in Lebanon around April this year, another busy month was May. That’s when we’ve done the GCC Jam 2015 here in Bahrain for the whole gulf, definitely a pretty busy year I’d say.
I really enjoyed most of the talks presented this year in the game development summit, Index. This is the company that organized the event – managed to have the perfect balance for the topics in the event. Their talks were given in this order spanning two days:
- Mobile, Business and monetization
- Game design and technology
- Community management
Personally, I think the above segregation was perfect for the event. It allowed touching base on many important aspects that concerned business people. Also, technology enthusiast and who’s in between, this also gave the audience the freedom they needed. For example, to listen to the topics they were interested in the most without leaving the talk area.
The MEGA event back in Lebanon was mostly a business and a networking event. On the other hand, this event was content-intensive. I really enjoyed the experience; let me take you through what went on:
Meeting great people.. again
The event allowed me to see good old friends again from all over the region. It always feels good to connect with professionals again and hear their stories and experiences. Moreover, their relationships with other people from the industry. There are just so many new awesome people that I had the pleasure to meet this year.
I had a nice breakfast on the first day with some amazing company. We got to discuss our thoughts on the current state of the industry here and abroad. Also, how long it’ll take us to hit the next milestone:
Osama Hussain, Ahmed Jadallah, Abdulla Hamed and myself
I even got to see Fakhra who is one of my past clients. He’s now the owner of her own studio “Hybrid Humans” with a shipped title already:
Fakhra and I
And check this out, Here is Firras Assad. He’s the Kuwaiti developer who just succeeded in the Kickstarter campaign to support his game project: “Octopus City Blues”:
Firras Assad and myself
Pascal Luban is an old-school game designer. He worked on so many great titles that I have respect for, notably “Splinter Cell”:
Good talks with Pascal at the dinner event
Great talks and tech demos
Even though the expo was a bit smaller than before this year, to me the game development portion of the show was cozy and intense. There were so many interesting talks and people, here are a few that I got hooked to:
Ahmed Jadallah’s talk about their new technology:
Ahmed Jadallah is the game director at Semaphore. It’s a company that did the first episode of a game called “Unearthed: the trail of Ibn Battuta”. In case you didn’t read my game development review of the game, you can do that from here. I was pretty straight forward in my thoughts in the review. However, I have to give it to Semaphore and Ahmed Jadallah in particular for taking the review with an open heart, kudos to you, Ahmed 🙂
Ahmed managed to show us a few sneak-peaks from his studio’s recent game projects. But what interested me the most what the tech that was showcased for his game “Alrekaz”. It made on top of the mighty unreal engine 4. The animation and the facial details are just outstanding. This gave me the chills when I noticed the subtle details that these people had put their efforts on.
Adriel’s talk on how stay motivated while being an indie:
Adriel Wallack is a fantastic lady who came up with the train jam idea – a jam that happens from Chicago to GDC san Francisco – gave an amazing talk on how to motivate yourself when working game projects, one thing that I really admired about the talk is the exciting way she managed to deliver her talk through, Adriel made her whole talk in terms of a game, as she was the protagonist describing what was happening to her throughout the game career, pretty neat.
Abdulla Hamed’s talk on the key icons of the industry:
Abdulla in an amazing guy, we’ve known each other for a while now, I really appreciated his segment in the expo, where he had a talk about how the current game development situation is built by several key icons of the region, I was really honored when I saw my name in his slides. The talk was a good introduction for the panel followed it, a panel where we community leaders discussed the state of the community and industry in the region.
Eske Knudsen on being an artisan or a businessman
This talk is a must-see talk for every individual who is keen about investing time, effort, money or a combination of those all in this field. Eske talked about the hard balance between making a game fun and monetizing out of it, it was very obvious that this is hard and definitely not a piece of cake, but Eske shared his humble experience and it was really insightful to all of us.
Joseph Shomali’s talk on business:
Joseph is a veteran who’s been in the business for a while, currently working in Play 3arabi along with Samer Abbas and Ahmed Alsafar – who are good friends of mine that I have a lot of respect for.
Business is an aspect you can’t escape even if you’re all about technicality and development, that’s why I’ve been paying really good attention in this talk and let me tell you, this talk was an eye opener for me, especially when I saw the stats of many gamers in the middle-east where they don’t have access to credit cards unlike the west, Joseph also talked about the potential ways that game businesses can monetize from like operators and so.
The indie area
The indie area had many game demos to be shown, this was a good move by Index, complementing the game development talks with people who have demos that demonstrated the potential of the region, nothing to be told here except that there were so many good demos, good people and surely some good vibe.
The indie area
Fakhra at the indie area
The future of MENA after this thing and MEGA
Listening to various people with diversity in disciplines was very enlightening, from business all the way to technology and design, but one talk that interested me the most was Omwally’s talk that happened to give us – people of the region – a chance to talk about our experiences from a development perspective and a community management one too, there was a big room for us to share our speculations and concerns regarding the industry.
Right before the end of the second day, I had the pleasure to be part of a panel that discussed the issues, difficulties and the challenges that we have in the region, it was more than obvious that we mostly face the same problems, but I believe we’re going the right way, our progress is way better than the previous years, especially after we – community leaders – are in contact with one another.
Visiting Dubai all over again
Me working my skydiving skills!
Dubai was perfect, I stayed for few days and got myself in this aerial booth trying to be ready for Skydiving next year, keep making good games and until next year.