Switzerland – As gaming becomes a significant part of everyday life, British-Tunisian digital artist Rayane Jemaa is challenging Western depictions of Middle Eastern and North African cultures in violent war games.
With his graduate project Is This The Middle East? the artist scrutinises the hackneyed stereotypes and harmful inaccuracies that underpin many games set in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. As video games often serve as players’ first encounter with a culture, these Orientalist stereotypes can strengthen negative perceptions and increase prejudice.
‘I realised that the majority of games set in the MENA region are inherently violent games and war games. Even if it is not implicitly stated, we’ll find clichés and stereotypes to remind us that we are in fact in the Arab world or the Middle East.’
Striving for a future in which video games take greater accountability for the depiction of certain cultures, Jemaa’s work highlights the need to address the triggering nature of these games and invites brands to find positive cultural uses for them instead. To learn more about the future of gaming, read our Gaming series on LS:N Global.
For many people, games are powerful portals through which to encounter global cultures. They're also an opportunity to paint more optimistic portraits of communities and regions, whether for digital tourism or learning purposes