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JEDDAH: Women in Saudi Arabia have recently entered new industries, making good strides with additional support from their communities, including the exclusive club of independent game developers.
An ambitious dreamer and playful player, Saudi entrepreneur Noor Alkhadra has found her way into the game development industry after years of playing. She started playing at the age of six thanks to her older brother and her treasure of games, and his passion grew after his brother left home to study abroad. Alkhadra ended up with a gold mine of games and hasn’t stopped since.
âThe games help you believe in winning and never give up. As players, the process of always finding a solution is ingrained within you, âAlkhadra told Arab News, adding:â Challenges become opportunities. A game is never made for you to lose no matter how hard it is it is for you to win and find some creative and smart ways to do it. This habit accompanies you throughout life.
Her journey in game development began while she was studying for her Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in video game design at the Academy of Art University. She continued her education with a Masters Degree in Tech Entrepreneurship from the University of Central Lancashire in England and started her company WeGeek, a video game events company.
Drawing from an underdeveloped and stressed field, she launched her video game events company in 2016, where audience engagement was integral to the company’s vision. The unique community-driven game events company included testing, competitions, showcasing the work of independent game developers, lightsaber shows, and more.
With over 20 events launched across London focused on esports, gaming communities and independent developers, Alkhadra has partnered with companies such as Nintendo, Bandai Namco, Ubisoft and Konami to further strengthen audience engagement. and give a better understanding of a game.
She first wanted to set up her business in Saudi Arabia. However, at the time, men and women were separated at events, and given that there are more male players than female players, it didn’t make sense to the young entrepreneur, so she decided. opted for Britain until the time was right.
“I look at myself and say wow, these are companies to respect and appreciate for what they have provided to the gaming community over the years, and I am fortunate to have partnered with them.” , she added.
In 2018, Alkhadra broke another path and partnered with Roborace, the first autonomous racing vehicle, which became WeGeek’s head of partnerships.
She said Roborace’s work is not far from the gaming industry. âThey wanted to gamify the experience by making the car race with obstacles like in a racing video game, that’s where I was. The CEO at the time was hired by one of the biggest game companies, Bandai Namco. “
In 2019, another path of development began, when she launched “Robonetica”, a platform that teaches teens how to code robots through video games in Saudi Arabia.
âI developed a few video games when I was in college and then moved on to directing and overseeing the development of our game Robonetica: ‘The Red Planet Project’,â said Alkhadra.
âI was working on Robonetica before the emergence of COVID-19, it was closely related to artificial intelligence because it was about teaching the next generation how to code autonomous robots.
“We aimed to give people access, allowing them to create their future rather than just being in the hands of the Zuckerburgs and the Musks.”
To strengthen her brand in the gaming industry, she launched a YouTube channel earlier this year where she reviews games and tech devices, as well as educational tips on entering the industry, news about games and fun times in the industry.
âI usually review the latest games when they come out. I focus on everything that makes a game good, like character development, game mechanics and storyline, âshe added.
Being a woman involved in the indie player development industry has helped her shatter an ingrained stereotype about player gender specifications.
âI have always loved video games, having been in the games industry for over seven years in multiple disciplines, from business to entertainment. But being a woman in the video game development industry was very rare, even in the United States, âshe said.
âI remember being the only girl in the class, sometimes feeling uncomfortable at first, but then I got used to it.
âAt first I felt I had to work three times harder to prove myself. Then I stopped worrying about proving myself and let my work speak for itself. Even on YouTube, I refuse to be called a gamer girl, I’m just a gamer.