11 digital developers from region win mobile gaming awards

 A total of 11 digital gaming developers from across the region on Saturday were announced as winners of the 2nd edition of the International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) of the MENA region, held in Amman for the second consecutive year.

The awards went to the games “4 Wheelers” (Iran) as the Best Multiplayer Game, “Malaeeb’s Puzzle” (Saudi Arabia) as Excellence in Gameplay, “Mafiosal” (Iran) as Excellence in Storytelling, “In Robots City” (Tunisia) as Best Meaningful Game, “Endless Hopper” (Lebanon) as Excellence in Innovation, “Around Mars” (Iran) as Excellence in Visual Arts and Design, “Klay BBJ Maze” (Tunisia) as Guilty Pleasure, “Around Mars” (Iran) for Best Upcoming Game and “Sho’lah — Brain Training” (Kuwait) as the People’s Choice Award.

The game “Colour Tracks” from Jordan won the special award “ZOOM” which offers JD5,000 in in-kind marketing support.

Organisers of the award stressed the importance of the competition for game developers, highlighting Jordan as a “hub” for the industry. 

“We have chosen Amman for the IMGA ceremony because it is a growing centre for the gaming industry,” said the founder of the IMGA, Maarteen Noyons. 

Noyons praised the “higher quality” of games presented this year, despite a lower number of applications. 

A total of 81 games were submitted by developers and studios based in the MENA region from May to August, with 52 qualifying for the semifinal round. 

The 11 winners were chosen by five judges coming from Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. The jury of experienced gaming experts spent two days testing the games before the ceremony. 

“During these days, I have seen huge potential in the region,” said Kay Gruenwoldt, who judged the IMGA MENA for the first time, adding that “there is a distinct form of art, a style that you can see in some of the games that it is grounded in the culture of the region”.

Gruenwoldt highlighted the “interest” and “enthusiasm” displayed by the regional participants. “I have never been in an environment like the one in Jordan, where the government and private organisations work together in educating and supporting entrepreneurs,” he said.

“I want to encourage young people and young entrepreneurs to invest in the gaming industry,” said Sabrine Ibrahim, who won the Best Meaningful Game award for her game “In Robots City”. 

The 26-year-old is the CEO of Envast, a company she founded in Tunisia. “The video game industry is the most interesting market as we all have smartphones and we all play games,” she said.

Ahmad Al Hanandeh, CEO of Zain Jordan, congratulated Ibrahim for the award, stressing the importance to see female CEOs in the industry. “We are targeting the MENA region with an educational game, because education is the most effective way to improve things in our country and we are also showing the world who we truly are,” Ibrahim told The Jordan Times during the event.

“My main advice for the developers of the region would be, first, to learn from the international gaming world by playing games which are not from your region and, secondly, to improve customer care,” Hanandeh said.

Iran was the country with the highest number of nominations, totalling 16, followed by Jordan and Tunisia, both with six nominees. 

Participants were developers and studios based in Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Tunisia, Palestinian Territories, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. 

Hanandeh expressed his appreciation to the IMGA for letting Zain host the event in the region.

“Jordan is becoming a centre for the gaming industry in the region and the fact that we are hosting this event again shows the importance of Amman,” he said. 

“Amman is becoming an important place for the gaming industry because, besides the presence of new startups in the city, which are doing quite well, there are also very interesting stakeholders based here,” Ibrahim concluded. 

The Jordan Times

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