Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – A new video game based on the Hajj pilgrimage will be produced soon, Asharq Al-Awsat can reveal.
The game is set to feature the different stages of the pilgrimage and giving the player the chance to deal with pilgrims as a security officer or medical assistant or as anyone taking part in the pilgrimage.
The game comes as a first step in countering the global trend of violent video games, which have gained significant popularity in the Kingdom in recent years.
Amir Bin Mohammed al Matoo, a researcher who specialises in the risks posed by electronic games and Intellectual Property rights and who is also responsible for analysing patents for inventors from GCC states told Asharq Al-Awsat that the project will be implemented in participation with educational and social authorities as well as psychologists.
According to Al Matoo, “Experts from several Arab countries will participate in developing the game, including a Kuwaiti expert who is presently setting the scenario for the game and its various levels. The design process will take place in a European country owing to the absence of designers for these kinds of games in Arab countries. Despite several attempts to produce flash games for consoles, video games require advanced technology.”
Al Matoo emphasized that “such projects require financial support; the production of a single game costs approximately three million dollars.”
Asked about the reasons behind the production of this game, Al Matoo stated that most video games available on the local market today do not contribute to increasing skills or the intellectual capacities of consumers and do not encourage good deeds among children. Furthermore, these games rely heavily on the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ through theft, kidnapping, murder, destruction, and by creating and leading mafia groups for example in order to win the game.”
Al Matoo continued, “These games contribute to teaching children about major crimes such as theft, fraud and destruction and even about adultery and indecency. There are many popular games of this kind.” He added, “Because in many cases children fail to differentiate between ‘virtual reality’ and ‘reality’, children usually learn about violence through these games by impersonating the character of a gangster for instance who defies police forces or one who destroys state buildings or another who infringes upon other people’s lives.”
Al Matoo warned against the underlying danger of these games, highlighting that one study that was conducted focusing on a group of juveniles in Riyadh proved that 90% of these teenagers were affected negatively by certain video games. He added, “It is easy for any child to buy these games since illegal copies are widely available violating commercial laws, copyright and production rights and this contributes to the decrease in their prices making them available to children at no more than five Saudi Riyals (SR). The original versions of these games are sold for 100 or 200 SR in games stores thus they are unaffordable to children.”