Popular video games with a Middle Eastern theme for Gamers: Arab themed characters inspiring players drawing from history, mythology and heroic conquest.
Some countries keep on inspiring game developers. From rogue like action entries to even pokies games, ancient Greece is all over the place. Countless games also take ancient Rome or feudal Japan as their backdrop. One region seems to have flown by the radar of the gaming industry, though.
Yet, the Middle East has plenty of myths and stories to tell. Sure, the MENA region has long been a playground for first-person shooters. But Middle Eastern characters can be much more than mere targets to shoot. So, we bring you four games to delve deeper into Middle Eastern culture.
Prince of Persia
Back in 1989, Prince of Persia was just another indie game. Little did its creator know that PoP would become one of the most iconic video games ever. This series of action-adventure games takes place in medieval Iran. And to create the world of his Persian prince, game designer Jordan Mechner was obviously inspired by the Arabian Nights tales.
In 2003, Prince of Persia became a massive mainstream success with the Sands of Time reboot. Two sequels ensued, as well as multiple spin-offs and mobile entries. A movie adaptation even hit the theatres in 2010. The franchise has been essentially dormant since then. Still, Prince of Persia paved the way for many successors.
If not for Prince of Persia, one of the most successful franchises in video game history would never have seen the light of day. Indeed, the first Assassin’s Creed entry originated out of ideas for a Sands of Time sequel. Developers intended for the main protagonist to serve as a bodyguard to the Persian prince.
Yet, they took the gameplay into an open-world approach. Their research into secret societies eventually led them to draw inspiration from a mysterious Shia Order of Assassins. Released in 2007, Assassin’s Creed takes its narrative to the days of the Third Crusade. An ancestor of player character Desmond Miles, master assassin Altaïr takes the fight to the Holy Land against a fictitious version of the Knights Templar.
Ten years later, the series came back to the Middle East with Assassin’s Creed: Origins. This Egyptian entry takes place during the late Ptolemaic period. Origins also introduced the first discovery mode, which allows players to learn about different aspects of ancient Egyptian life.
In Arabian Lords, players travel back in time to the early days of Islam. The story follows the rise of an Arabian merchant, from a humble palace to the ruling of an entire city. This PC game of strategy includes twelve scenarios spanning the 7th to the 13th century, focusing on a historical period that is too rarely shown on screen.
If you’re in for a Middle Eastern journey, indie game developer Quirkat has brought many other Arabian-themed games. Basha Card Games, for instance, encompasses three beloved card games in the Middle East. The game doesn’t involve any gambling, though, as betting is prohibited throughout the MENA area.
Still, Middle Eastern players can find safe ways to gamble online. In Arabic countries, the best online casinos make up for the lack of brick-and-mortar gambling houses. Thus, experts have put up a list of reputable casinos with strictly anonymous payment methods. The best platforms even reward players with promotions, like free spins and sign-up bonuses. So, gamblers have plenty of options to hit the jackpot, from poker and blackjack to slots.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
If you’re a history buff and a gamer, the Civilization franchise should be up your alley. The series’ sixth entry was released on PC and Nintendo Switch. It features four historic Middle Eastern characters. And there’s no surprise since the MENA region is the birthplace of some of the world’s most brilliant and powerful civilizations.
Players can go the military route with Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, or Gilgamesh, hero of ancient Sumer. Arabian sultan Saladin is heavy on faith and science, while Cleopatra is a strong pick for a culture victory. Each leader then comes with its unique set of historically inspired buildings and units, such as Arabia’s madrasa or Persia’s Immortal armies. Subsequent expansion packs introduced many new characters from the Middle East, from Phoenician Queen Dido to Ottoman sultan Suleiman.