The Gaming Boom: Where Passion Meets Pay Cheque

Contrary to popular beliefs, gaming careers encompass more than just playing games.

August 31, 2023 | Sana Umar Maklai


Gone are the days when video games were just a pastime.  The gaming industry has experienced a rise, attracting a league of individuals passionate about crafting virtual worlds.  It's a landscape where innovation flourishes, driven by cutting-edge technology like high-performance PCs, gaming consoles that rival cinematic experiences, and mobile devices capable of delivering immersive gameplay.

In a world where pixels meet possibilities, video games have evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry, teeming with opportunities that beckon students venturing into the university halls.  The allure of gaming isn't just about becoming a pro gamer; it's a gateway to a world of creative and technical roles that promises excitement, innovation, and substantial rewards. 

In 2022, video games made around USD $217B, and is predicted to keep growing at 13.4% each year until 2030.  Comparatively, movies earned only USD $91B in 2021 and, with a comparatively lower CAGR of 7.2% expected until 2030. 

Surprisingly, the most successful entertainment product ever is not a movie or a book but a video game: Grand Theft Auto V.  It has made more money than any single movie or album in history, with more than 175 million copies sold, grossing USD $7.7B. 

There is more money in the modern day gaming industry than in movies and music combined.

Online Gaming and Beyond

At the heart of this evolution is online connectivity.  The ability for gamers to connect globally has revolutionised the industry.  Multiplayer and online gaming have emerged as dominant genres, fostering a sense of community and competition that transcends geographical boundaries.

Gaming has become a big business globally, gaining traction during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, with new-age technology providing an opportunity to reach a wider audience and develop new titles to cater to consumer demand.

This surge has drawn in millions of players and given rise to new game studios and abundant job opportunities for budding game developers.

Contrary to popular belief, a gaming career isn't solely about becoming a professional gamer. Beyond developing games from scratch, big studios also seek talent for localisation, adding a local touch and Arabic content to games.

Opportunities in advertising and marketing abound, involving influencer marketing, in-game advertising, and social media strategies to amplify products.  Technical areas like broadcasting design and video editing for streaming platforms present fresh prospects.

A Hub for Tech Talent and Gamers Alike

The UAE, the second biggest economy in the Arab world, wants to attract worldwide businesses and help local gaming talent.  Abu Dhabi Gaming and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre's Gaming Centre are leading this effort by giving strong benefits.

Last December, the DMCC partnered with Yalla Esports to start the DMCC gaming centre.  This helps the gaming industry in Dubai grow by giving gaming businesses money and industry experts.

The UAE is good for business, and many gaming companies from around the world have made their main offices here. Ubisoft, the maker of Assassin's Creed games from France, is in Abu Dhabi.  Tencent, a gaming company from China, has its main office in Dubai.

In February, AD Gaming and the Sawa Group joined forces.  They are working together to support gaming and e-sports in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

As the industry flourishes, programmers and developers, honed by experiences in top-tier companies like Riot Games and tech giant Tencent, which is among the world's ten most valuable companies by market value of about USD $442B, are flocking to the UAE, enticed by the fast-paced gaming environment and the appealing remuneration prospects.  The country's supportive stance towards game developers has led to the emergence of numerous studios, intensifying the call for skilled professionals.

The gaming forecast for the GCC market, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is incredibly promising.  With governments actively promoting digital economies, the stage is set for knowledge-driven, innovative, and technology-focused futures.

The launch of the UAE National Program for Coders, in collaboration with tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, aims to provide a solid foothold for coders and digital companies in the job market.  This initiative plans to train thousands of coders and support start-ups, further enhancing the gaming ecosystem.

Saudi Arabia plans to develop 30 games and create about 40,000 jobs by 2030 as part of its National Gaming and Esports Strategy.

Building a Future through Gaming Innovation

This journey starts with a robust academic foundation from esteemed universities.

A computer science degree provides you with essential skills for developing video games and related systems across various platforms.  Acquiring technical skills, such as programming languages and graphic design, enhances your prospects in the field.  Regardless of your educational background, proficiency in programming languages like C++, C#, or Java is essential.

A career in gaming extends far beyond professional gaming.  Opportunities abound for game designers, software developers, animators, and more.  Game designers conceptualise game ideas, while software developers bring these ideas to life through programming languages and engines.  Animators create visually captivating characters and movements that keep players engrossed.

The gaming industry offers diverse opportunities with lucrative rewards.  As of 2023, some roles and average monthly wages in the UAE include:

  • Game designer: AED 20,000
  • Online gaming product manager: AED 15,000
  • Middle game designer: AED 6,000 to AED 20,000
  • Head of e-sports: AED 45,000
  • Game design internships at major developers: AED 5,000
It's a dynamic, innovative field that welcomes technical and creative minds.  With the UAE at the forefront of this industry's growth, students and aspiring professionals can be part of something extraordinary. 

From developing captivating storylines to creating immersive experiences through cutting-edge technology, your journey into gaming holds the keys to an exciting, rewarding career.


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