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The Gaming Lab Jordan celebrates 13 years of innovation

Nour Khrais of Maysalward on 13 years of empowering Jordan's youth and the history of their annual App Challenge
The Gaming Lab Jordan celebrates 13 years of innovation
  • Jordan has made a significant contribution to the creation and growth of Arabic content, contributing more than 50% of the Arabic content on the internet
  • The collaborative effort between the government and the private sector has been instrumental in fostering a thriving gaming ecosystem in Jordan
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It's been 13 years since the introduction of the first Gaming Lab of Jordan program and Nour Khrais, CEO of Maysalward and chairman of the Jordan Gaming Task Force took to LinkedIn to share the news and a video (below) from that first event and the graduation of the very first cohort from their annual App Challenge.

"We are grateful for the vision and support of His Majesty King Abdullah II, empowering Jordan's youth, fostering innovation, and supporting the creative gaming industry. Here's to a future filled with boundless opportunities and groundbreaking achievements!", he wrote.

To find out more about the program, the App Challenge and their past, present and future we got the latest from Nour:


PocketGamer.biz: Congratulations on 13 years! Tell us a little history. What was the state of games development in Jordan back when things started?

Nour Khrais: In 2011, the mobile game industry experienced significant growth and emerged as a major player in the global gaming market. During this year, the industry showcased robust performance, with the total revenue reaching $5.8 billion.

“The market dynamics in 2011 demonstrated a shift towards mobile gaming as a lucrative sector, with a notable share of the gaming market attributed to mobile games.”
Nour Khrais

This substantial revenue highlighted mobile games' increasing popularity and profitability, setting a trend for the industry's future trajectory.

The market dynamics in 2011 demonstrated a shift towards mobile gaming as a lucrative sector, with a notable share of the gaming market attributed to mobile games. This growth trend signified the rising dominance of mobile platforms in the gaming industry, laying the foundation for the industry's continued expansion and innovation in the years to come.

Since King Abdullah II ascended to the throne, he has actively promoted technological advancements in Jordan. His vision and foresight allowed him to recognize the immense potential of the mobile gaming industry, given its low entry barriers and Jordan's existing expertise in mobile value-added services and content creation. Jordan has made a significant contribution to the creation and growth of Arabic content, contributing more than 50% of the Arabic content on the internet. This strategic insight from His Majesty underscored his commitment to empowering Jordanian youth through technology and the creative industry.

And how did the Gaming Lab and App Challenge come about?

At the time, Jordanian gaming startups were forming the Jordan Gaming Task Force to build a better ecosystem for gaming in the country. Most of these startups were focused on Facebook, PC, or console games. However, Maysalward, the first mobile game company in the MENA region, stood out with its exclusive focus on mobile gaming. This unique positioning caught the attention of King Abdullah II's development office, which, under His Majesty's directive, established the App Challenge to build the capacity of school students aged 14-16 years at an early stage and the Gaming Lab, a free-to-access facility equipped with tools and trainers to support these students and other gaming enthusiasts.

Jordan is a leader in capacity building and contribution to the marketplace with games and resources. This collaborative effort between the government, represented by King Abdullah II's development office, and the private sector, led by Maysalward, has been instrumental in fostering a thriving gaming ecosystem in Jordan.

How have things changed over the past 13 years?

I began my journey in mobile video gaming back in 2003, at a time when the industry was not widely recognized globally, especially in emerging countries like Jordan. It was a social challenge to convince the community to allow their children, who were typically being prepared for careers in business or engineering, to pursue something considered fun and a waste of time.

At that time, none of the universities in Jordan had any gaming-related programs. Over the years, there was growing interest in creative studies such as animation and filmmaking, and the release of games like Zynga and Facebook Farmville sparked a growing interest in gaming over the internet. However, it was a tough journey.

The gaming lab began operating during the Arab Spring, a time of turmoil and uncertainty in the Arabic world. Nevertheless, it was the right time for us to pave a brighter future for the youth in an engaging industry that could have a global reach and provide revenue streams.

Tell us more about The Jordan Gaming Lab and the work it does

“The Jordan Gaming Lab is not just a workspace; it is a dynamic and innovative hub specifically designed to meet the unique needs of aspiring game developers and companies.”
Nour Khrais

The Jordan Gaming Lab is not just a workspace; it is a dynamic and innovative hub specifically designed to meet the unique needs of aspiring game developers and companies. Established in 2011 with the support of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein through the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD), the Gaming Lab has made significant strides in nurturing the talents of young Jordanians in the gaming industry.

One key aspect that sets the Jordan Gaming Lab apart is its accessibility. With branches in six cities across Jordan, the Lab is easily accessible to aspiring game developers nationwide. This accessibility ensures that talented individuals from all corners of Jordan can benefit from the resources and support provided by the Lab.

The Gaming Lab supports aspiring game developers by providing free access to state-of-the-art development tools. These tools allow developers to bring their game ideas to life and experiment with innovative concepts. Additionally, the Lab offers immersive workshops that provide participants valuable insights into various aspects of game development, including programming, design, and marketing.

The Gaming Lab and App Challenge activities directly contributed to raising awareness in Jordan about video gaming, leading to the establishment of specialized programs in teaching video gaming at universities and the growth of an indie game developer and startup scene. This impact has not only stayed within Jordan but has also influenced the whole region, with many resources from Jordanians contributing to the gaming ecosystem in other countries.

How can everyone get involved, help, or benefit from your work? What are your hopes for the future?

Early on, His Majesty made it clear at the Gaming Lab that Jordan should always be a bridge between the world and the Arab region. This is why we host the annual Gaming Summit. The conference, now managed by Pocketgamer Connects since 2019, brings together over 1500 attendees from Jordan, the region, and around the world for two days to discuss how we can build a better future for gaming in the area.

We want to get everyone involved: the private sector, investors, brands, and technology enablers inside and outside the country. I want to create a proper indie fund that thinks long-term rather than pressuring creativity for quick wins. Here in our region, we are natural storytellers, and our civilization heritage can contribute to creating strong, unique IPs that bring more uniqueness to the game industry.

We are also working on building more crossplay capabilities into our programs, allowing our developers and creators to make for a broader range of playability. This can go along with the Esports Management programs we started recently, to build a better foundation for Esports in the region.

To find out more about The Jordan Gaming Lab and to register your interest, head here