Abu Dhabi to host first Games for Change Summit in Mena

Industry experts will discuss how developers can create titles that can help solve real-world issues

The summit in Abu Dhabi is a partnership between Games for Change, the UAE and the US. Photo: AFP
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The first Games for Change summit in the Middle East and North Africa is coming to the UAE capital.

Games for Change and Abu Dhabi Gaming announced the new two-day event, which will run from October 11.

It aims to connect 300 figures from Abu Dhabi’s gaming industry with international experts, to discuss best practices and innovations in gaming.

James Hartt, director of strategic partnerships at Abu Dhabi Gaming said the summit would empower the city's developers to produce titles with a real-world impact.

“Through Abu Dhabi’s world-class gaming industry support programme, Abu Dhabi Gaming, the emirate is now home to the largest community of game developers in the region,” Hartt said.

“With world-leading industry names such as Ubisoft and Unity, along with so many innovative independent game developers based in the emirate, there is an impressive amount of high-quality games being produced in Abu Dhabi,” he added.

Held in partnership with the US Mission to the UAE and twofour54, the summit will include a series of talks, panels, workshops, networking events and an interactive arcade — exploring the business trends driving the gaming industry.

Participants will also hear independent game developers and entrepreneurs from across the globe share their experiences of the industry, as well as how games have been used to address social issues surrounding education, healthcare and climate change.

Speakers will include Asi Burak, chief business officer at Tilting Point; Leo Olebe, managing director at Google Play, and Chelsea Blasko, co-chief executive at Iron Galaxy.

The Games for Change’s Game Exchange brings together middle and high school-aged children across the world to develop games that will address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Photo: Games for Change

The Games for Change Summit is part of a partnership between Games for Change, the UAE and the US. This year, G4C teamed up with Aldar Education and Abu Dhabi Gaming to launch a virtual exchange programme connecting young people in the US and Mena, called Game Exchange.

Students across the world design games together that will address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under the themes of human rights, sustainable societies and a healthy planet. Some of these games will be exhibited as part of the G4C Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, said the event was an opportunity to reimagine the gaming sector’s role in global development and international collaboration.

“For nearly 20 years, the Games for Change community has shown us how the games industry is more than an engine for economic development — it’s a vehicle for social impact," she said.

"Games for Change is thrilled to work with gaming leaders in Abu Dhabi to build an ecosystem focused on innovation, education, and real-world impact.”

Robin Solomon, counsellor for public affairs at the US Mission to the UAE, added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the unique US-UAE bond by connecting American and Emirati experts and innovators in the UAE’s exciting and growing gaming sector.”

Abu Dhabi Gaming's initiative aims to transform the city into a global gaming hub. The country’s gaming industry is predicted to reach $288 million in revenue this year.

Scroll the gallery below to see Pixoul Gaming, Abu Dhabi's huge esports and virtual-reality hub, set to open soon.

Updated: September 13, 2022, 2:58 PM