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Platform expo brings gaming experts to Doha.

By Peter TownsonStaff Reporter

The first Platform Doha exhibition, bringing together experts from the gaming industry, was held at Qatar University yesterday, where participants discussed the future of the industry in Qatar and the developing role that gaming is playing in various aspects of daily life.

Experts from local and international corporations, including Microsoft, Sony PlayStation Europe, Clyde & Co and ictQATAR gave presentations on the gaming experience as well as other aspects of this multibillion dollar industry and its potential for growth.

Panel discussions also focused on "how to promote, protect and sell games online," and "global gaming and content creation," while participants were invited to experience a number of new innovations in gaming technology on display throughout the event.

Two competitions invited applicants to create a gaming application and a character, with both categories offering QR700 prizes to the winners and QR300 to the runners-up.

The conference was opened by Qatar University vice president and chief academic officer, Sheikha bint Jabor al-Thani, who said: "No-one can deny that computer games play an important role in the lives of our youth and students. There is a clear reason for educators to investigate how to use games in education."

Participants produced a wide range of high quality entrants in two competitions run throughout the exhibition

"With the number of technological advances -- for example, the proliferation of tablets and other smart devices -- the potential is huge," she said, adding "this event has opened up a new horizon for education that would appeal to youth and enhance their interest in learning - it also showed our students the wide ranging career options that can be pursued in the gaming industry."

Platform Expo founder, Lindsay West noted: "Gaming has enormous opportunities for education, entertainment and employment. The purpose of this expo is to bring together everyone involved -- from the animators to the businesspeople -- to get a conversation going about the future of gaming in this region and how we can make it a success."

Discussions also focused on the development of Arabic content and the potential that this relatively untapped market offers for developers and students in the region.

CEO of local company, Saga, Khalid al-Mohannadi, who runs a gaming studio in Doha, spoke about the potential for gaming in education and the fact that video games could be an innovative way for Arab youth to develop closer ties to their heritage.

He referred to a number of games featuring Arabic content which have experienced huge levels of success, and called on the establishment of academies and studios to nurture the development of a gaming industry in Qatar.

"The challenge here is to raise awareness about this emerging market," he said, adding that companies should look to establish a presence in Qatar because of "the brilliant students and creative people here."

QU's department of computer science and engineering head, Qutaibah Mullahi said: "Arabic is very under-represented on the web, in gaming and in social media. Just around two per cent of all content on the web is in Arabic."

"The computer games that young people play now are not in line with our traditions, our religion and our way of thinking - there is a chance to create content and games more representative of our heritage and provide huge opportunities for entrepreneurial students and businesses here to design and develop such games."

Founder of Sony PlayStation Europe and guest speaker at the event, Chris Deering spoke about the major global changes in technology and social development, highlighting the role that Qatar could play in the Arabic gaming industry: "The centre of gravity of economic growth in this area is moving towards the Arabic-speaking world. Qatar has every reason to pioneer itself as a regional centre for game creation."

The exhibition was a success and provided a clear indication that there is interest and expertise on offer in Qatar, especially throughout the younger generation. Presentations from experts such as Muqeem Khan, who has worked on Disney projects and numerous other Hollywood films, offered a fascinating insight into how technology and art have combined to create beautiful results, and watching some of the games on display served as reminder of how much the industry has developed in recent years.

What is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the exhibition is how much the technology at its heart is developing, and what changes could occur in video gaming, and especially Arabic gaming, before Platform Doha 2013.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2012

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Apr 19, 2012
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