Today’s world of entertainment and games is very different from that of four decades ago. The Internet, and mobile smart devices - at the top of which are smart phones and tablets, are spreading widely. There is a growing passion and interest in subscribing to and using the Internet and social networks, and this has in turn transformed digital games into "a global phenomenon", and a massive industry that is worth tens of billions of dollars.
The digital games industry has evolved over the past four decades, and this rapid evolution has accelerated since the Internet, mobile phones and computers witnessed an unprecedented boom across the Globe. This phenomenon has shifted from being a one-player game using one device to team games that may involve users from more than one country, irrespective of geographical barriers. Mobile phones, laptops, and tablet devices now allow users to play games irrespective of where they may be.
The variety of games has also witnessed remarkable development, as their use is no longer limited to leisure or entertainment. There seems to be a global trend to integrate electronic games in all aspects of life. Digital games can now be utilized as learning tools or for health-related reasons, or they can also be used to portray political and social realities, and other aspects of life as well.
Global figures show that the number of Internet users worldwide reached approximately 2.4 billion users by the end of 2012, of whom 1 billion used Facebook. The number of smart mobile phones used worldwide is 1.3 billion, while mobile phone subscriptions reached a figure of 6 billion.
With the growing importance the digital games industry has contracted around the World and in the Region, and in light of its immense progress and the close attention paid to it by major global companies and manufacturers, programmers and users alike; the Industry - its development and global orientations, will be a major topic for discussion at the sixth MENA ICT Forum to be held at the Dead Sea under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II on March 6-7, 2013.
During the Forum, which is entitled "Arab ICT Spring: Realizing Potential" – industry experts will discuss the most prevalent trends in the ICT industry, as well as the probabilities and possibilities for integrating these trends in various economic sectors. The digital games industry will receive a fair share of weight and mention throughout the Forum’s meetings and discussions, particularly in light of the leading role it plays in the ICT industry today, as a standalone economy pulling in revenues of tens of billions of dollars.
Estimates show that the number of Internet users in the Arab World has recently exceeded 100 million, 46 million of whom are Facebook users. Estimates also show that there are approximately 360 million mobile phone subscriptions in the Arab World, and that up to 50% of the total number of mobile phones users in the Middle East are users of smart mobile devices.
A study published on the website of "Discover Digital Arabia" examines the prevalence of digital games in the Arab World. The study shows that the growth rate of the digital games industry in the Middle East is 46.6%, and the number of searches for the word "games" on the search engine "Google" in Saudi Arabia alone, reached 24 million times per month. Another study published on the same website shows that the total percentage of online game users in Saudi Arabia is estimated at 65% of the total number of Saudi Internet users, 56% in Egypt, and 46% in Jordan.
The Arab Advisors Group – a group specialized in studying telecommunications and media market trends, released a study during the first quarter of last year. The study indicated that the number of users of Arabic language games on Facebook reached nearly 3 million users by the end of 2011. The study also noted that since the launch of the first Arabic language game in September 2007, the number of online Arabic language group games increased to 135 by the end of 2011, and this includes 95 team games and 40 social games available on Facebook in Arabic.