Iconic Middle Eastern Characters in Video Games
By Rick W. Hindi
Video games have long been a popular form of entertainment, and with the rise of the internet and social media, they have become more popular than ever before. While video games have traditionally been dominated by Western characters and settings, recent years have seen a growing trend towards diversity and inclusion. This has led to the creation of a number of iconic characters in video games from the Middle East.
In no particular order:
Video game: Assassin’s Creed series
Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad is the protagonist of the first Assassin’s Creed game. He is a master assassin who is tasked with recovering nine Pieces of Eden, powerful artefacts that could be used to control humanity. Altaïr is a skilled warrior and a complex character who is struggling to come to terms with his past. Although his nationality isn’t mentioned (the concept of sovereign nations wasn’t as established in the early 1100s), it’s heavily implied that he’s from the Levant, particularly modern day Syria, especially the very real, the very much there, and the very Assassin-lore heavy city of Masyaf, seat of the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins.
Prince of Persia
Video game: Prince of Persia series
The fan-favourite and often nameless Prince of Persia is the protagonist of the Prince of Persia video game series (He’s named Dastan in the 2010 film). He is a skilled acrobat and swordsman who is often tasked with saving his kingdom from evil. The Prince is a classic video game hero who has been captivating gamers for decades. In no version of the game does the Prince however speak Farsi or any of the languages from modern day Iran.
Fun Fact: In Iran, the iconic video game “Prince of Persia” is commonly referred to as شاهزادهی ایران, which translates to “Prince of Iran.” The literal translation of the title would be شاهزادهی فارس, signifying “a Prince hailing from the region of Pars or Persia.” However, it is worth noting that Westerners often employ the terms “Pars” and its Latin derivatives, such as Persia in English or Perse in French, to denote what we, as Iranians and Persian-speaking individuals, recognise as Iran. For additional information, read this amazing article.
Video game: Age of Empires II
Saladin is a playable character in the Age of Empires II video game. He is a skilled military leader who led the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 1187. Saladin is a respected historical figure who is also a powerful video game character and needs no introduction.
Video game: Street Fighter series
Rashid Alazam is a playable character in the Street Fighter video game series. Possibly Saudi, most definitely a socialite (and a flirt) who is also a skilled fighter. Rashid is a unique and interesting video game character who has been praised for his diversity and representation.
These are just a few of the many iconic Arab characters in video games. These characters are helping to break down stereotypes and promote a more diverse and inclusive gaming industry.
Tamatem Games is committed to helping the Arabic mobile gaming market reach its full potential. By localising popular mobile games, publishing original Arabic mobile games, supporting eSports, and investing in Arabic mobile game development, Tamatem Games is playing a key role in shaping the future of Arabic mobile gaming. Our most popular games include Fashion Queen, VIP Baloot and Battle of Kings. In addition, card players from across the MENA region have been enjoying our in-depth card game, VIP Jalsat.