UAE’s gamers have a chance to make a career out of their favoured pursuit
With COVID-19 causing a devastating impact on livelihoods, the need for escapism has never been more important, with two in five millennials turning to gaming for social interaction according to YouGov. Periods of uncertainty cause humans to reassess their career choices, and the current environment is no exception.
According to a poll from Aviva, which quizzed more than 4,000 people globally, it found three out of five workers plan to learn new skills, gain new qualifications, or change their career altogether as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Although the gaming industry has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, why has it become more important than ever before and how has it changed?
Technology is continuing to innovate and trends such as gamification, esports and virtual reality are becoming integral components for the government and private sector to explore gaming career opportunities across multiple sectors, including in education and entertainment. In the GCC, consulting firm Strategy& revealed that the Middle East gaming market is expected to reach $821 million this year, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia being the biggest.
Some of the initiatives put in place by the UAE since the beginning of the pandemic include establishing hubs and academies such as the Dubai X-Stadium and twofour54’s partnership with Unity Technologies for a gaming center of excellence. Dubai Media City launched an Instagram Live series – called GAME_ON – in collaboration with ON.DXB, which featured regular video game development workshops comprising 3D modeling, rigging, animation, sound engineering, VR and tips for developers to further their careers.
With around 70 per cent of the Saudi Arabia’s population under 30 years and approximately 20 million gamers or gaming enthusiasts, the government is making huge strides to provide job prospects for millennials across the booming gaming sector, which is forecast to nearly quadruple in size by 2030. These initiatives will simultaneously develop professionals with the skills that gaming firms need to grow their businesses.
Forming a key part of driving employment are universities – with more degrees dedicated to computer science – aiming to equip students with skills in video game design and digital animation. A computer science degree will equip with the skills to apply techniques to develop video games and related systems on computers and mobile platforms, and to identify an approach to solve real-world problems in video games and multimedia systems.
But contrary to the consensus, a career in gaming doesn’t just entail being a professional gamer. There are a series of opportunities that are prompting a positive outlook for this multi-billion dollar industry, both on the technical and creative side.
Advancements in technology including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) promise gamers new fully immersive challenges. The 360-degree views of more realistic environments and haptic feedback through controls will take the gaming industry to another level. Creators are trying to make both AR/VR technologies synonymous with gaming.
The launch of the UAE National Program for Coders in partnership with tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon, is the latest development designed for not just gamers to gain a foothold in the job market. It plans to train and attract as many as 100,000 coders and digital companies in the next five years, while also investing in startups.
The building blocks for a successful career in these sectors should begin with strong academic foundation from a reputable university.
The writer is with the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at UOWD.
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