Noclip Podcast #03 (Story) – The Dunes of Arabistan

Noclip Podcast #03 (Story) – The Dunes of Arabistan

(gentle instrumental music) – [Danny] Hello and welcome to noclip, the podcast about video games
and the people who make them. On today’s episode we talk about how a quarter of the earth’s population became video games’ bad guys. (gentle instrumental music) Representation is an important
part of any media landscape. As a kid growing up in Ireland, I can attest to the power
of seeing your culture represented in a piece of global media. I remember the joy of
hearing Atlas’ Irish accent in BioShock, or that
of Shay Patrick Cormac in Assassin’s Creed Rogue. The flip side of this, of
course, are the stereotypes, the drunken Irish louts and
the mercenary terrorists that represented Irish people in films, games and literature
throughout my childhood. Thankfully these days those associations are considered lazy writing, but sadly not every group of people are afforded such creative understanding. A few months ago I came across
an interesting Twitter thread involving indie developer Rami Ismail. In it he describes how contemporary games still seem to struggle with
the basics of writing Arabic, resulting in, at best, a
horrific break of immersion as words are written backwards
or with letters unconnected, and at worst an insulting disregard for a language spoken by
over 400 million people. Rami understands this from both a cultural and developer perspective. As co-founder of Vlambeer, he has worked on numerous
successful indie titles including Nuclear Throne,
Ridiculous Fishing, Super Crate Box, and Luftrausers. How is it that films
and games still manage to get so much wrong when
it comes to depicting Arabs, muslims, or Islamic culture? There’s a lot to talk about here. How media reflects our stereotypes, how fiction reflects
the world as we see it and not really how it is, and even how code itself
can contain racial biases. To get to the bottom of it all, I called Rami up on Skype to talk about how Islam and Arabs
are portrayed in games, and the steps that developers can make to make games more accurate and to buck troubling stereotypes. – [Rami] Yeah, so I’m Rami Ismail, I’m a Dutch Egyptian game developer. I spend a lot of my time
traveling around the world working with game developers everywhere to advance the games industry
in their respective countries, and in doing that I’ve
gotten to learn a lot about the cultural impact of games and the way games reflect on
culture and represent culture. And that’s always sort of been an interesting story on my life, I grew up as a child of a Dutch mother and an Egyptian father, which are two quite divergent
cultures to grow up between. So I’ve always felt a little
bit of a third culture kid. And I started traveling around the world, started meeting other developers and started to learn
about this games industry. And it was really only
then that I really realized just how much media shapes
your view of the world. Because despite being Egyptian, I’ve kind of internalized that Arabs are the bad guys in a lot of media. And that that is fine, for some reason. And then when I started traveling and I started to look around
the world and realizing that, it actually isn’t fine
that I started seeing just how ubiquitous this
is, this idea of like, you know, that our people
are the good people and the other people are the bad people. And as soon as I started
looking at it through that lens, I obviously was a little
shocked because I went back to games that I loved in my childhood and just started looking at
the representation of Arabs, games as old as like the
arcade title Metal Slug, which is what, 20, 25 years old by now? And just realizing that we’ve kind of been the bad guys in media all along. And obviously it shifted,
there’s been a period of times where there’s Nazis, periods
of time where it’s the Russians or the Soviets, other periods of time where it’s the South Americans, but it’s never, it’s
never the Western world. And then you start looking around and you start thinking, like, okay, well what do I know
about my Egyptian family, what do I know about my Egyptian friends, like how do they feel about it? And it just kinda internalizes, you just kinda get used to this idea of, well, I guess we’re the bad guys. It’s weird knowing that
kids in the Middle East and kids around the world
are growing up with this idea of oh, yeah, we’re the bad guy, like, we’re supposed to shoot us, right, like shoot people that
look like my parents. – [Danny] That’s interesting to me, because obviously you
grew up in a sort of, in the Netherlands, I’m assuming, especially because it’s English speaking, stuff is so prevalent,
there’s probably a lot more sort of American and
British media shown there than perhaps in a lot of
other European countries. But you’re even saying
like relatives of yours that grew up in the Middle
East, it’s the same thing? – Yeah, no, when you think about it, Hollywood and the games
industry, they are Western media. And in many ways they
represent a Western view of what is right and wrong,
what is morally acceptable, what is morally unacceptable,
who is good and who is evil. And a lot of that media
still makes it across, like the movies that people
watch in the Arab world, they’re not different movies. Yes there’s obviously Arab cinema, but that doesn’t exclude Western cinema from being played there, like they watch the same Avengers movies. And yes, sometimes there’s modification, sometimes certain ideas
about what is acceptable in a cinema, make changes to a movie. When I was a kid I would watch movies in Arab cinema and miss plot points because those plot points happened during, what’s the polite way of saying it, like a romantic scene in a movie that contained too much
nudity for Arab audiences in those days. Like the movies were edited for content, but in essence, they were the same movies, and nobody really cut out Arabs
being blown up in a movie. That was acceptable. The same double standard
we have in the West, violence is okay and
sexuality is very much not. That same standard
exists in the Arab world. So they’re not that dissimilar, and they’re consuming a
lot of the same media, which means that they’re also accepting a lot of the same messaging, and that’s, you know, a little concerning. – [Danny] The sort of
pastiche of the Arab terrorist which persisted in the 90s, is it fair to say that that sort of, turned a little bit more evil, or had a more, I don’t know, like, spiteful edge to it in a post
9/11 sort of media landscape? – [Rami] Yeah, absolutely, and I think it’s also just
a more common trope now. I mean, every era has, every
part of the Western era has its prevalent enemy culture, right, and for a while after 9/11 that was considered the extremist muslims. Which, you know, muslims
are all over the world, they’re one of the largest
demographics on the planet. They live as far as Indonesia all the way down to central Africa. There’s muslim countries everywhere, but really instead of
doing muslim extremists, a lot of people just default it to Arab. And they’re not very good at that, either. Like, if you look in movies,
if you look in games, if you look in media at large, what is Arab is often
conflated and mixed up. A lot of times Persian cultures that don’t speak Arabic get represented, they use elements from those
cultures to represent Arabs even though they are
not necessarily Arabs. Not all muslims are Arabs,
not all Arabs are muslim. But for ease of stereotyping
they get represented that way, similar to how, and I’ve
started, me and friends have started to call this Arabistan, this sort of like fictional Arab country in which everybody lives
in a little desert village that is dusty, with small
stone houses, and everybody, all the women are very thickly veiled, and all the guys are in the
back of Jeeps with AK 47s with like beards and turbans, like that country does not exist. There is no place like that, and like, you will see a television series
that will say like, Beirut, and show that, while
Beirut in reality is like this huge metropolitan city
that if you would take a photo of an average street you
wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from London, or any other major city. But that’s not what people are selling. What they’re selling, what
these series are selling, is confirmation of a stereotype. People think that that’s what
the Arab world looks like, so if you do a scene in Beirut
and it looks like a city, people won’t believe it. So in a way, it’s keeping
itself, it’s self-perpetuating. – [Danny] This speaks to
something that happens probably to every foreign culture when they’re viewed in the media, but there’s something about
this specific sort of laziness, I feel like, when it comes to
the Middle East in particular, considering probably especially that it is such a melting pot
of different types of culture and ethnicity and everything
else, and that that happened. Like I remember, I could
imagine getting frustrated about people now knowing
where Ireland is, right, like American’s don’t
know where Ireland is, but that’s not really that big a deal. Or the Aurora Borealis
was in Street Fighter 3 when they were in England,
and I remember thinking, what the fuck’s that
about, that’s ridiculous. But why is there such, like, painting with a broad
brush is sort of something that happens a lot, but it
does seem like the brush is much broader when it
comes to the Middle East. Why do you think that is,
do you think it’s because people know that the audience
is kind of not clued in, or that they think that a Western audience doesn’t really care, and they don’t really
care about the audience that might actually be from that place? – [Rami] Yeah, I think it’s
mostly the second thing. There’s no, for a lot of Western media, there’s no particular appeal
in appealing to Arab audiences. Even though the Middle
East is one of the fastest developing regions in the world,
and it’s not a poor region, it’s a relatively rich region as well. Only recently have people
started to look at the region as like an actual place of people. And it’s sad that this has
to be an economical function rather than like a moral function that people would just get it right, because if you make a movie
that includes a certain culture you should represent it well. But being Dutch, like,
I know the Netherlands gets represented as
speaking German in movies very frequently, like,
that’s just a thing, right? Scenes that are supposed
to be in Amsterdam are shot in like, Berlin. And in the Netherlands that’s
common, but the thing is, that’s not, it’s not a
misrepresentation of who the people are as a people, it’s
just the wrong place. They’re still represented
as positive, friendly, kind of European, you know,
kind of quaint people. Which, fair enough for the Netherlands, I can see how that works, but for Arabs, who are often stereotyped as aggressives, as angry, as evil, as plotting and scheming. As a game developer, I love
the medium of video games. But if I have to name you like five Arab protagonist characters, or not even active protagonist,
not a player character, not like a main protagonist,
but even a fellow protagonist or a secondary character,
I could maybe name you two? Just off the top of my head. And I’ve researched
this, obviously, right, there’s just not a lot
of characters like that. I remember playing Call
of Duty Advanced Warfare, and there was a scene in
that where you’re in Cairo, like future Cairo, and there’s a rebellion that is fighting alongside
you, and I was just, I was so excited that these Egyptians, these fellow countrymen of mine, were fighting on the good side. I was elated, I was so
happy that this was a scene in the game and then obviously
they betray you later on, because no Arab can be
trustworthy in a video game, apparently. And it just broke my heart. It’s one of those moments
where you’re like, even that moment of like,
oh, these people are fine, they’re also fighting for good. It just wasn’t a thing, like
that, they had to betray you for that character to make sense to the writers or to the
developers or the creators. And it’s incredibly sad
when you think of that in that that is the message
that’s being perpetuated, while at the same time a lot
of movies, TV series, games, don’t even take the time
to get the language right. Or to take the environment right. To place cities in the right countries, or to even make them somewhat believable. There’s just an incredible
laziness to which Arabs are used as antagonists that is somewhat similar
to how a lot of old movies used Nazis as antagonists. And honestly, when it comes to
Nazis, you know, fair enough. The Nazi Reich did horrible things, and their ideology as a group, which was not a huge group,
but as a group, was evil. And I think we all agree about that, and there’s no real discussion about it. But you can’t really say that about Arabs. The difference between a
Lebanese person who is, the Lebanese tend to be very
Western, very progressive, very Western-focused, and
very modern in that regard. And somebody in Saudi
Arabia which is more strict, more Islamic, more muslim-focused,
they’re both Arabs. But there’s no consistent
evil Arabs there, like, they’re not Nazis. – [Danny] So do you
think that media sort of, as the years progressed and Nazis became less and less relevant that there was a sort of a
Nazi-shaped hole left in, I guess, tropes, and then essentially Middle Eastern people
just kinda filled it? – [Rami] Well yeah, that
and the soviets, right? Like it was the Russians or the Arabs, and then eventually the Russians
weren’t that scary anymore because they haven’t really
caused war for a long time. So for a while they tried the Chinese, but China controls a lot
of media nowadays as well, so that doesn’t really fly either. So the Arabs are left, the Arabs don’t have a lot of
influence on the world stage, there have been incidents
and wars in the region, often not caused by the people there, but wars that happened to
them, but regardless, war. There is absolutely an
extremist part of the Arab world or the muslim world. And yes, there has been terrorism
in the region, absolutely, but when you think about it, most of the victims of
that type of terrorism have been people that live there. They live under terrorist groups or in terrorist territory, and the people most affected
are the local people there. And they’re also Arab. Sometimes also muslim. So when you think about it,
the media needs a bogey man. It needs an evil that we
can all agree on is evil, and the thing is, for Arabs,
it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the most visceral
thing that can represent evil to a lot of people, and part
of that is self-perpetuating. Part of that started with 9/11, but then as things
went, as things changed, it never corrected to being a truthful representation of the world. And instead we’re still watching TV series in which Beirut is a sandy village full with people with AK 47s. – [Danny] When you think about the games that sort of stand out
from this awful stereotype, the games that sort of maybe
didn’t get everything right, but did something right, what are some examples that you have? What comes to mind for me as somebody who, I’ve barely been to the Middle East, I’ve only ever been to various
cities in the Emirates, which is its own culture as well. But to me, the only
one that sort of struck any sort of a chord seems to be the first Assassin’s Creed game, although that was largely in sort of Christian, Israeli areas. But what are the ones,
is that a good example, or is that an example that through my Western eyes looks accurate, but actually through more
accurate eyes is not? – [Rami] Well I mean obviously Altair, who was the main character
of Assassin’s Creed, like I remember playing that game and just realizing that
my Arab was useful here. Understanding Arab made a
difference because Al Mualim, which is one of the main characters in the game, just means the wise one. Like Altair means the flying one, and Altair Ibn-La’Ahad
which was the full name of the main character in that game means Altair the son of no one. I understand these things before
the game would explain them and it was a phenomenal
feeling, it was great. Just realizing that
this part of my culture, even though it wasn’t Egyptian, per se, but part of the Lavantian region, that this was taken seriously, was incredible. Also Assassin’s Creed Origins, the most recent version of the game, is technically about Ancient Egypt, but like most Assassin’s Creed games, there is a contemporary
element to the games, and in this case it takes place in Egypt with an Egyptian main character. And she is a phenomenal character, westernized, but a modern, westernized but clearly of Arab heritage person. There’s a moment where
she curses in the game and she does it in Egyptian,
and like in the right accent, with the right tone, with the
right Egyptian, like, words, and it feels very, it felt very nice, it felt like a little wink to the people that are Egyptian or Arab
that would recognize that. Deus Ex Human Revolution
had a female Arab character in the game, and she
wasn’t the protagonist, but she was a trustworthy,
reliable person. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare
had a Lebanese soldier that she, as well, was a
dependable, trustworthy person that plays a major role in the story. Overwatch has two Arab characters that are actually really
good, Pharah and Ana, and both of them are fully
realized Egyptian characters, as well. But the amount of times
you actually take control of a fully Arab kind
of contemporary person, I don’t think I could name
you any, at the moment. (emotional instrumental music) – [Danny] Where do you
think the impetus is to getting this stuff right? Is it a mixture of more
Arab people being involved in development, or is it
the fear that Rami Ismail will get on Twitter and
start giving out to people, or is it the developing audience
within that marketplace, or is it just that games generally are being held to a higher cultural standard than they were 15 years
ago, what do you think? – [Rami] I think it’s a
little bit of all of it. I don’t think my Twitter is
that big of a deal in the whole (Danny laughs) but, obviously
people giving attention to an issue or pointing out
that something is an issue makes people look at it and reconsider just how sloppily this is handled. And when I say sloppily,
that’s not an exaggeration. Again, in many games,
Arabic is a beautiful script written from right to left, it’s cursive, so all the letters are connected. The amount of games in
which, or even movies, movies like Captain America Civil War, or games like Battlefield,
these giant titles, often just get Arabic wrong. It’s not written properly,
it’s the right words written backwards with
no letters connected. Something that any Arab, if
any Arab had looked at these scenes or these moments in
these media expressions, they would’ve immediately
said, well that’s wrong, we should fix it. But that doesn’t happen
because the representation of these people, the
attendance of these people in the creative process is
just very low at the moment, we’re not represented
well because we’re not. We don’t have access to these
creative processes very often, and that’s changing. In the last few years there’s
been an increasing amount of Arabs that have
joined the games industry or that have gotten in positions of more influence in the games industry. At the same time, the market
in the Middle East is growing. Where a decade ago, two decades ago, a lot of games that you
would buy in the region, because of the economical differences between the West and Egypt,
would be pirated copies. You would go to a store, you
would buy a pirated version of FIFA 2001, and it would
come pre-installed with a crack that would allow you to play
this pirated copy on the disk. But now that the economy
is sort of shifting and the world is globalizing, a lot of Arab countries
also just buy legal games. The digital revolution
obviously helped a lot there. So people have way broader access to games now than ever before, and it also means that the
market there has grown. And then finally, like you said, I think games are being held
to higher cultural standards, too, I think as the medium is maturing and as games are becoming
a broader and broader part of the global conversation,
of the global awareness, of the global consciousness,
not just the creators feel an increased responsibility
to represent the world well or even their fictional worlds well, to not take shortcuts
when they can avoid it and to not take harmful
shortcuts under any circumstance. At the same time, the
audiences are more critical of the media they consume,
and they’re not as happy to just be like yeah, of course, Arabs are the bad guys, clearly. Evil that is just evil
is less and less accepted in our media, and if
there is somebody evil we like to have a justification, like why is our protagonist
fighting this person, what brought this person to be that. You see that in big blockbuster movies like Avengers Infinity War in which the antagonist is basically the main character in the movie. But you also see it in
some of the stereotypes in other places where
even if you are an Arab that doesn’t make you evil,
there’s a separate thing, a separate like, inciting incident that puts the character
on a certain trajectory. That makes me hopeful,
because that’s honestly a way more true version of the world. People aren’t evil because
they are of a certain race or heritage, or country, or ideology, they do bad things because they believe that is the best course of action for them or their family or their
life, or their people. That holds true for honestly
most things in the world. People are not evil because they’re Arab. They might be evil despite being Arab. Most Arabs I know are,
pretty much all Arabs I know, honestly, are tremendous, welcoming, warm, hospitable people that you meet them and they will invite you
for dinner the same day. – [Danny] This reminds me a little bit of when I was talking to CD Projekt about how so many of the
games that were coming from, I guess across the Iron Curtain, at that stage and then
later once they’d joined, or once the wall had fallen down, that there was a big sort of culture of localization happening there along with that pirate scene. Is there any sense of that
at all in the Middle East that like, some of these
big blockbuster games are getting some kind of
localization treatment? – Yeah, no, it makes a huge difference. Until recently, the three
games that were ever translated in to Arab were FIFA Pro Evolution Soccer, and for some reason, WALL-E. I have no reason why WALL-E, but WALL-E had Arab localization. But more recently, a lot more games have
had Arab localization, and it’s frequently not Arab voice acting, that’s still pretty rare, but a lot of games at
least have Arab menus, they have menus that
are displayed properly from the right to the left
instead of the left to the right, like they invert their UI. The Division had that, I think
Horizon Zero Dawn had Arabic. A lot of blockbusters are
starting to take the market seriously which means that in return, the markets are taking
these games as products made for them instead of
things you just download from the internet illegally
because it’s not for you anyway. And that’s honestly,
it marks a huge shift. It’s an important moment, I think, that a lot of these major platforms and a lot of these
creators are realizing that there are people out there that are interested in their media. All they need is just to
feel like they are respected even the tiniest bit, and
they’re, instead of being, instead of the bullet point on
the game that refers to Arabs being, well now if you blow up the car, the Arab guy that’s next to it will fly away with more
spectacular rag dolls. Like, instead of that, saying
hey, we see you as a people, we see you as a person,
and we think you deserve the same level of respect and attention, the localization, the culturalization, that all of these other cultures have. And that, you know, it just means, even though nobody will
consciously be able to put into words that difference, it is huge, it is night and day. – [Danny] As somebody who
understands games production, what are the ways in which
this sort of gets solved? Is it just a case of having
more Arab people on staff, is it a case of, I don’t know. Is this something that just takes time or is there some more
immediate way that like, ’cause we have a lot of developers that listen to our stuff as well. Is there any best cases or any stuff that can help fix this issue? – [Rami] Obviously if
you’re gonna represent Arabic culture, you have
to think very careful about what Arabic culture means. Because Egyptian culture is
extraordinarily different from the culture in, say, Saudi Arabia, which is different from
the culture in Lebanon which is different from
the culture in Syria which is different from the, like, every one of these countries
is its own culture, the same way you wouldn’t get away with representing California as, say, Montana, or you wouldn’t get away with
representing London as Dublin. They are different cultures. Even though they have a lot in common, they sometimes speak the same language, they might have accents. Thinking of Arabs as one
thing is already a problem, the same way thinking of Arabic as one language is incorrect. The easiest way to get
that right is obviously if you’re doing something
in the Arabic world, have Arabs look at it,
have Arabs confirm it, and don’t just have them
confirm it at the start, but have them confirm it at
every stage through the process. The main reason for that is that computers are actually terrible at Arabic, they’re devices made to deal
with the English language. Which is written from left to
right as individual characters while Arabic is written right
to left as a cursive script, so the letters have to be connected. Computers were never built to do that. No computer was ever built
to deal with a cursive script or a script that is connected. So the way Arabic works in computers is technically kind of a hack, and until 2017 even Word,
Excel and PowerPoint didn’t properly support Arabic, that is a relatively recent addition to the Office suite of programs
is proper Arabic support. Which means that, until 2017, if you copy/pasted an Arabic sentence from Word to PowerPoint, it would break. – [Danny] That seems incredible in 2017 for that to be an issue. – [Rami] Yeah, this was like a big update, Arabic support in Office. But that is still true
for a lot of software, that Arabic breaks, and one
of the pieces of software is a commonly used
creative tool, Photoshop. Which still does not
support Arabic properly. So in a game production
or a movie production, often what will happen is
they will have English text, they will ask for it to be translated, the translation company will
send back the translated file, and then the artists or the
creatives that work with it copy paste from that
file to their programs or software or whatever they’re using, and then it breaks, but they don’t notice, because they don’t
understand the language. So they don’t notice that the
text is broken or inverted, or that the letters are
no longer connected, because as far as they’re
aware, copy paste always works. So having Arabs involved in
every step of this process, and not just Arabs, preferably
Arabs from the region you’re representing, is a huge difference. Then the second thing is like,
obviously the Arab region is full of mythology
and history and culture, music, art, stuff like
that, and it’s very easy to base a fictional culture on that. If you do that, it might be
worthwhile trying to think of anything more interesting
than it is a place with sand in which everything is terrible. Overwatch did a really beautiful map of, I forgot which country
it was, I think Iraq, and in that map it’s displayed
as this beautiful city full of like green and glass tall towers, and this positive view of the future. And you know, just that,
just the representation as something else than a
forgotten part of the world would mean a lot. So when people think of creating a space, a fictional or realistic
space in the Arab world, make sure they involve Arabs. Try to think of anything but, this is where the terrorists live. And try to think of it as like
a place that has aspirations, hopes, that is trying to, given a lot of the
messed up history there, whether it’s messed up from colonialism or messed up from invasions,
or messed up from war or messed up from corruption
or political problems, whatever the reason is, a
lot of these territories have issues that they’re
desperately trying to fix, they have a youth that is
so hopeful for the future, that wants things to be
better, that is willing to, you know, go on the streets and protest, to cause revolutions, to try
and make the world better. Back them up. Give them something to believe in, give them a future to believe in, and make them feel heard,
make them feel valuable. If anything, isn’t that what games and
media should be about? Showing us a mirror of the world that sometimes shows us what is bad, but also sometimes shows us what is good. Like there’s an entire people out there that the only mirror they’ve ever had shows them as terrorists, and
that’s incredibly sad to me. (contemplative music) – [Danny] Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the noclip podcast. If you don’t already, you
can follow Rami on Twitter @tha_rami, that’s T-H-A
underscore R-A-M-I. Thanks so much to him for
taking the time to talk to us, I believe he took the call from a hallway of a games convention in,
I wanna say it was Croatia. It was a few months ago now,
so I can’t quite remember. I’d also like to wish
you a happy new year, and tell you that we’re
actually going to be changing the format of this podcast
quite a bit in 2019. As you can probably
tell from this episode, I’m stripping out some of
the more time-intensive editing techniques that I
used in previous episodes to basically try and get
more of these out there. In fact, instead of this
being a sort of edited, curated type of show, we’re
gonna do it more conversational. More like a lot of podcasts out there, but instead of it being
a collection of people who talk every week, we’re
gonna talk to a new person within this sort of massive
global sphere of games every episode. So that might be a developer, it might be somebody
who works in the press, it might be somebody who is
actually not involved in games but has a completely other
interesting facet of their life and also plays games. As it turns out, we have a
sort of a massive document full of people who are super
interested and down to do this, and if I just did these
recorded, edited interviews like this, I’d never get
around to doing them. So what we’re gonna do
is essentially make this a more conversational type of podcast, and then every once in a
while do these curated, highly edited episodes sort
of like special stories every once in a while. The next one of those you’re going to hear will be an interview with
Jeff Gerstmann I conducted about the 10 year
anniversary of Giant Bomb, and his history of working
in the games press. But aside from that, the rest of the podcast
you’re gonna hear on this feed are going to be less
edited and more frequent. The plan is to make this a weekly show at some stage in 2019,
but we’re gonna sort of ramp up to it a little bit slowly. If that sounds like a good idea to you, or a terrible one, let me know. I’m @dannyodwyer on Twitter. As ever, thank you to
our incredible patrons for supporting our work. You can support our documentaries,
this podcast, and more, by joining up on You also get access to this podcast early via a special RSS feed, not to mention all the other goodies we give out on the Patreon every week. Thank you so much for supporting our show, I’m very excited to take it
into new and interesting places in 2019. Talk to you soon. (instrumental music)

18 thoughts on “Noclip Podcast #03 (Story) – The Dunes of Arabistan

  1. Well isn’t this just the gaming podcast I’ve been looking for. Been a fan of yours since Gamespot, loved your episode on the late John Bain’s podcast, and all the Noclip stuff to date. Cheers!

  2. Great stuff as always, very interesting topic. The new podcast format works great and if it saves you editing time, that's a win-win. Cheers, Roli(theOne) 😛

  3. Go at your own pace, bud. I can't afford to support financially, so I will gladly accept any release schedule that works for you.

  4. Absolutely love these podcasts and the issues/stories discussed within them. Its like video game NPR and that's exactly what ive needed

  5. I just wanted to say thank you for captioning these podcasts (and all the videos!) But podcasts in particular are usually never captioned, which I understand it's costly and time consuming. Just wanted to say I appreciate it, as well as the high quality of all the content you put out!

  6. Indian guy here. I can totally feel with Danny's and Rami's thoughts and observations on Media portrayal in general.

    Although in our case, until few games in this generation of consoles, we didn't had any proper representation in Games.
    And its extremely hard to do a proper portyal because India is like a mini-Europe in the sense that there's no one "European".
    Tamil People would relate more to the Tamil setting of Uncharted Lost Legacy than North Indian like me. People living in or experienced the Himalayan hill stations relate more to Far Cry 4's setting than a Rajasthan person.

    Anyways great podcast. I'm looking forward to the next one.

  7. boring rehash. the conversation on this has been going for years, and despite being a gamedev he brings no experiences from the projects he works on? waste of my time

  8. I think for indie developers, this sort of thing is impenetrable, unless it is something you are already deeply familiar with. I'm sure there are many developers who would absolutely love to make their games more accessible to all regions of the world, myself included. However, writing the core tech to handle a language that is totally unlike my own, is something which I would consider to be daunting, and that is putting it lightly. I mean, if Adobe with its resources hasn't got this sorted, what hope do I have. Especially if the libraries that are depended upon, such as text rendering don't support this stuff.

    On the more cultural side of things. I would absolutely love to have a level or two that feature a portion of the cultures described, and think that my games would be better for it. However, it ends up in the "don't touch with a barge pole" category. Since even with the best intentions, it is so easy for me to screw up in ways that I would be totally unaware of (obviously beyond the "don't negatively stereotype" side of things, that bit isn't hard).

    Clearly, having local games industry (and tools development) in these locations is going to be key to progressing things. Hopefully, AAA games that can afford the investment, will do so, not only to reach new markets, but also to improve their products for everyone via the cultural depth added. But equally, I didn't hear anything in this podcast that would suggest that this is an issue that will be "solved" in a widespread manor any time soon, due to the costs, specialisms, and complexities involved.

    It would be really nice to know if there are any small and (relatively) easy "quality of life" things that small independent developers can do to to help with this. In a similar vain to how adding English subtitles is fairly easy to do, but improves the quality of life for many players beyond not having them.

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