Cultural policy aspirations and the turn in Saudi Arabia’s video game industry

Publication Name

International Journal of Cultural Policy


Saudi Arabia is one of the largest emerging but least-known nations in the domain of game cultures and the broader transformation of popular culture. While previous studies focus largely on the representation of Arabs in video games and other entertainment forms, cultural policy and its influence on gaming culture have been scanty, owing to challenges arising from local linguistic conventions and the limited availability of primary materials. To overcome this gap, this study investigates the unique background and development turn of the video game industries in Saudi Arabia and then analyses some of the major shifts that occurred after 2016 when the Saudi government released its Vision 2030 initiative. The authors analyze key government policies and documents and findings from participant interviews with Saudi gamers, revealing a contradiction between the religious background of Saudi Arabia and the expansion of video gaming. In short, there are some new and possibly unexpected implications that have emerged as the status of video games has risen to meet global trends under aspirational national cultural policy. Unraveling the unmatched expectations between liberal gamers and younger audiences, and the state helps us to understand the nuanced shape and challenges of policy in the region.

Open Access Status

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Link to publisher version (DOI)