14 Oct 2022
Over 400 global and regional game developers and companies gathered in Abu Dhabi this week to participate in the first ever Games for Change Summit in the Middle East. Hosted by Games for Change in partnership with AD Gaming, the US Mission to the UAE, twofour54 and Endless Network, the summit facilitated the building of commercial relationships and advanced the global conversation on using games to drive positive impact.
During the two-day summit, global gaming experts from top tech and gaming companies including Google, Roblox, Iron Galaxy and Fazeclan, gathered with local gaming businesses and talent to explore best practices and build strong business relationships within the UAE. Attendees were given the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers included Asi Burak, Chief Business Officer at Tilting Point and Chairman of Games for Change; Leo Olebe, Managing Director, Global Games, Play Partnerships at Google; and Chelsea Blasko, Co-CEO at Iron Galaxy, as well as panel discussions on entrepreneurship and gaming for social impact.
On the second day of the summit, over 30 local game companies and students presented their work at the interactive ‘AD Gaming Partner Arcade’, giving local and regional companies, including Boss Bunny, Khosouf Studios, Yalla Play, Kashkool, Zawaya Gaming, After Work, Attarius, Batal Gaming, Cation Arts, Estaz, and Barzah the chance to showcase their games to visiting delegates. A series of workshops was also hosted for local talent, focusing on subjects such as the role of Women in Gaming & Esports, hosted by Rebecca Longawa, Founder and President of Happy Warrior, Leveraging the Power of Games in the Classroom, hosted by Arana Shapiro, Managing Director and Chief Learning Officer of Games for Change, Empowering the Next Generation of Games Makers, hosted by Michael Angst, CEO of E-line Media, and Impact Through Game Play, hosted by Lindsay Grace, Knight Chair of interactive media at the University of Miami.
“The Games for Change Summit in Abu Dhabi was an incredible success, and we were amazed to see the level of inspiring talent in the region,” said Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change. “For nearly 20 years, the Games for Change community has shown us how the games industry is more than an engine for entertainment and economic development — it’s a vehicle for social impact. We were thrilled to work with gaming leaders in Abu Dhabi for the first Summit in the MENA region. Working collaboratively with local partners, we’re proud to be supporting the creation of an ecosystem focused on innovation, education, and real-world impact.”
“Games for Change’s decision to host the first ever MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi has once again solidified the emirate as the regional hub for the gaming sector.” said James Hartt, Director of Strategic Partnerships at AD Gaming. “Bringing together some of the world’s leading gaming and esports companies with over 300 local developers and gamers was an incredible opportunity to further advance Abu Dhabi’s gaming ecosystem. Our mission was to empower game creators to drive positive, real-world impact through video games and we look forward to seeing the tangible results from this incredible experience.”
Thomas Bruns, Regional Senior Commercial officer at the U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, said: “The G4C UAE Summit brought together some of the most innovative U.S. and UAE video gaming companies to encourage business-to-business connections and exchange the industry’s best practices. The U.S. Mission to the UAE stands ready to assist U.S. companies to leverage business opportunities in the UAE and the broader region and we look forward to expanding collaboration with twofour54 and AD Gaming to support U.S.-UAE creative industries partnerships.”
The Games for Change Summit in Abu Dhabi is the latest development in an ongoing partnership between Games for Change, the United States, and the UAE. This past year, G4C teamed up with Aldar Education and AD Gaming in the UAE to launch Game Exchange, a virtual exchange program connecting youth in the United States, the Middle East, and North Africa. Students in the United States and the UAE are working together to design games that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under three overarching themes: Human Rights, Sustainable Societies, and a Healthy Planet. Impact games developed by UAE-based students in the Game Exchange program were exhibited during the second day of the Games for Change Summit.
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