16 November 2006

TKM Looks for eGaming Start-ups

Education and mobile games may seem like an unlikely match but an initiative run by Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) is trying to persuade students to consider a career in the games industry.

In partnership with Ericsson, Oman Mobile, Infocomm, Sun, ANGILS, Oman Economic Review, TIGA, the Middle East College of Information Technology (MECIT) and the Knowledge Mine business incubator program, the Rusayl-based technology park will run eGames: The State of Play (
www.egamesoman.blogspot.com) 10 – 11 December 2006, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

eGames is a two-day gaming conference that will focus on mobile and serious gaming. As well home grown gaming experts the event has also attracted speakers from Sweden, the UK, Korea, Singapore, the UAE, Oman, Canada and Spain, so attendees are assured of walking away having shown, discussed and seen state of the art innovation in the mobile and serious gaming industry.

“We’re looking at mobile gaming as revenues from this sector are expected to grow from US$3bn in 2006 to US$10bn by 2009, this increase is being driven by continued growth in subscriber numbers, an increase in roll-out of 3G services, falling game prices and a new generation of made for mobile games,” said Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, KOM and organizer of eGames.

“Mobile games have come of age. They’re no longer the poor relations of console and PC games. They are a different family of entertainment products with their own set of characteristics,” continued Al Maskari.

“If we look further down the line, I see continued growth of mobile subscribers in Oman and across the Gulf, and given the global mobile gaming growth projections the revenue streams for the region’s telco providers and mobile game developers will soar,” he added.

In addition to the conference, KOM is also organizing a one-day gaming workshop in partnership with MECIT. The workshop is aimed at college students and will be run by staff from the Faculty of Art and Design at De Montfort University in the UK. According to Al Maskari the workshop is intended to promote the games industry as a career option to students. "When we go to colleges, we find it’s not something students have thought about doing," said Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing. "We want to encourage students with an interest in drawing, animation and story writing that the gaming industry is something they could get into. In fact, we’re very keen to attract gaming start-ups to set-up in the Knowledge Mine business incubator program," she said.

On the question of financing a gaming start-up, Al Maskari said: “For people with truly inventive, credible investments, approaching angel investors, venture capitalists and similar routes of funding isn't as hard as the impression people have of it. If you are credible and have done the required thinking, pretty much anyone will talk to you."

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