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Using Gaming as a Tool to Engage, Educate, and Inspire Action

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Matt Dalio, the CEO of Endless Studios, speaks about the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program, how his company is contributing to the UAE’s goal of creating 30,000 jobs in the gaming sector, and how gaming is being used as a tool to address global environmental challenges

Can you elaborate on how the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program aligns with the UAE’s vision for the gaming industry and its role in economic diversification?
There are two levels at which I can answer that question. The first is the bigger picture that we are working towards. Economic diversification will come from talent development. Countries like Singapore and Switzerland have one thing in common: they invest in their talent. The result was that they each took a country without any natural resources and turned it into a hub. The trajectory of the UAE, as is the case for every country, will be determined by its people.

If its people are to build a better, more economically diverse UAE, its youth need to be trained in the disciplines that will drive growth in the decades to come. Those are technology skills. This is only becoming more important each year, with AI and the increasing pace of innovation. It’s essential to train youth in those technology skills.

We believe that the best way to do that is through their interest. If they are interested in something, they will work hard on it. If they work hard on it, they will get good at it. We see a clear interest in gaming, with the average student spending more than 10,000 hours in games. We want to harness that interest to teach them to build games, because if they can build games, they can build software, and if they can build one kind of software that can take that into every industry that is touched by software.

While our goal is to train a generation of innovators and entrepreneurs for every industry, as a youth game-making studio, we are also teaching youth how to build video games. The gaming industry is important in UAE’s vision of diversification as it represents a large segment of the entertainment industry. The game industry has grown to become twice the size of the music and film industries combined. Most adults consider it as it was decades ago, and yet it is a $200 billion per year industry, on its way to becoming a $300 billion industry. If the UAE wants to participate in the growth of this industry, it needs a way to train a generation of game makers.

But most importantly, it’s important to understand that Endless Studios is about more than just entertainment; it’s about using gaming as a tool to engage, educate, and inspire action. If we succeed, it will be with the support of the UAE. This not only opens up new avenues within the gaming sector but also positions UAE talent at the cutting edge of using technology.

How does Endless Studios’ initiative contribute to the UAE’s goal of creating 30,000 jobs in the gaming sector?
Endless Studios is a strategic contribution to the UAE’s ambitious goal of building a game industry. For example, DCT Abu Dhabi had earlier this year revealed its plans to drive job creation in the rapidly expanding e-gaming industry across more than 20 new companies. To achieve this, it will need to train talent capable of taking those jobs.

The question is: how does it train them? We believe that the best way to do that is by creating a community of game makers who are excited to build games and to do that at a young age. Traditional courses won’t work. Students aren’t interested in taking more classes. They want to make invigorating things with their friends. This is the core of how Endless Studios works.

Endless Studios puts youth together to build the game that they want to build. By providing the scaffolding and support so that they can succeed, we make it so that anyone can build a game. We have tools that make it easy for them to build games. We have mentors who guide them. We have live streams and community events that make game-making interactive and engaging.

Our program is not just about game development; it’s an ecosystem of opportunities, fostering skills and innovation in multiple facets of industry. We teach coding, art, design, management, marketing and all facets of entrepreneurship. Whether someone enters the gaming industry or takes this innovative approach into a startup or an industrial behemoth, we are preparing them for the most important skills of today. The skills of innovation and technology.

Looking ahead, we envision a future where every student in the UAE has a delightful experience that teaches them the basics of entrepreneurship. Some will turn these skills into their career, while others will simply gain a solid understanding of the principles. However, if we have the opportunity to widely teach entrepreneurship to our students across the UAE, all will be influenced by what they find delightful, and we will all consider it educational.

Emphasising the development of digital and creative skills among the UAE’s youth, we are directly nurturing the next generation of game developers, designers, programmers, and creative thinkers. These are the professionals who will drive the gaming industry forward, contributing to job creation not just within gaming, but also in related fields like technology, creative arts, and digital media. Additionally, our programs at Endless Studios encompass more than mere technical training in engineering, coding, design, art, and management. We’re passionate about fostering indispensable life skills – creativity, problem-solving, empathy, agility, communication, and collaboration – through our immersive learning model.

Our focus on climate change and sustainability through gaming opens up new avenues for job creation. It’s not just game development; it’s about creating content that is socially responsible and impactful. This approach attracts a broader range of talents and skills, from researchers and environmental experts to educators and storytellers, all contributing to a more diverse and sustainable gaming industry.

This global outreach not only brings in external expertise and resources but also creates new job opportunities by expanding the market reach of the UAE’s gaming sector. We have also partnered with E-Line Media, aiming to provide opportunities for participants to become paid apprentices on professionally made games.

In summary, Endless Studios’ initiative is a multi-dimensional approach to job creation in the gaming sector. It’s about equipping the youth with the right skills, fostering innovation in content, and expanding the industry’s horizons both locally and globally. We are committed to playing a pivotal role in achieving the UAE’s goal of not just creating jobs but shaping a future-proof, diverse, and dynamic gaming industry.

How does Endless Studios determine the theme for each cycle of its programs, and how has the current program integrated the concept of sustainable development and climate change awareness into its gaming initiatives?
To deeply embed ourselves in the UAE’s landscape, our programs follow a cyclical pattern, each cycle highlighting a theme significant to the region. With COP 28 currently being hosted by the UAE, we’ve chosen to emphasize climate change and sustainability in gaming this year. In past cycles, our focus revolved around themes encompassing UAE culture.

These themed initiatives serve as a magnet, drawing diverse talents and skills—from researchers and environmentalists to educators and storytellers—to our endeavours. This strategic thematic alignment allows Endless Studios to fortify the impact of its initiatives, aligning them closely with the UAE’s cultural and environmental priorities. By integrating these themes, we ensure that our programs resonate deeply within the fabric of the UAE, fostering a more sustainable and impactful gaming industry.

The current program uniquely integrates the concept of sustainable development and climate change awareness into our gaming initiatives by intertwining education and entertainment – a concept we often refer to as ‘edutainment’. Our approach is multifaceted and deeply rooted in the idea that games are not just a form of digital entertainment, but powerful tools for social change and education.

First, the games we develop under this program are designed to embed sustainability and climate change themes into their core gameplay. This means players engage with concepts like environmental stewardship, renewable energy, and conservation not as abstract ideas, but as integral parts of their gaming experience. By doing so, we make learning about these crucial issues both immersive and interactive.

Second, we emphasize storytelling. Each game tells a story that resonates with the players, making the concept of climate change more relatable and tangible. We believe that when players see the impact of their decisions within the game world, they are more likely to understand and reflect on the real-world implications of those actions.

We also integrate real-world data and research into our games. This approach not only educates players about the current state of the environment but also challenges them to think critically about solutions to these pressing issues. It’s a way of turning players into problem solvers, encouraging them to think about sustainability not just in the context of the game, but in their everyday lives.

Lastly, community engagement is key. We encourage players to participate in discussions, share ideas, and collaborate on solutions both in-game and through various online platforms. This creates a sense of community and collective responsibility, reinforcing the idea that everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change.

Can you share examples of how gaming is being used as a tool to address global environmental challenges in your program?
In our ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program at Endless Studios, gaming is leveraged not just as a medium for entertainment, but as a powerful tool for addressing global environmental challenges. We’re pushing the boundaries of what games can do in terms of raising awareness and inspiring action on climate issues.

Furthermore, we’re exploring the use of augmented reality (AR) and visual reality (VR) to connect players with their immediate environment. Imagine a game that encourages players to collect virtual items that correspond to real-world recycling efforts or conservation activities. By blending the digital and physical worlds, we aim to create a more tangible connection between the player’s actions in the game and their impact on the environment.

These examples underscore our commitment to utilizing gaming as a platform to engage, educate, and empower players about environmental sustainability. We believe that by embedding these crucial messages within the framework of gaming, we can reach a wider audience and make a significant impact in the fight against climate change. It’s all about turning players into advocates and stewards of the environment, one game at a time.

In what ways is your initiative helping to position the UAE as a global hub for cultural and technological advancements in gaming?
Our initiative at Endless Studios is meticulously designed to position the UAE as a global hub for both cultural and technological advancements in the gaming industry. We’re leveraging the unique aspects of the UAE’s strategic vision, its cultural diversity, and its technological prowess to create a gaming ecosystem that resonates on a global scale.

As it relates to aligning with Sheikh Hamdan’s vision, we’re focusing on innovation in the gaming sector. This involves not just adopting cutting-edge technologies but also pioneering new ones. We’re pushing the boundaries in areas like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and AI-driven game design. These technologies are not just futuristic; they’re game-changers, literally. They allow us to create more immersive, interactive, and engaging gaming experiences, which is crucial for establishing the UAE as a technological leader in the gaming world.

Culturally, the UAE is uniquely positioned as a melting pot of global cultures, and we’re channelling this into our games. By incorporating diverse cultural elements into our game narratives and designs, we’re creating games that resonate with a global audience while showcasing the rich heritage and modern dynamism of the UAE. This approach not only celebrates the cultural diversity of the UAE but also positions it as a centre for cultural exchange within the gaming industry.

Moreover, our programs are a testament to our commitment to using gaming for social and environmental impact. By addressing global challenges like climate change through gaming, we’re aligning with the UAE’s commitment to sustainability and demonstrating how technology can be harnessed for the greater good. This not only puts us on the global map as a forward-thinking gaming studio but also as a responsible corporate citizen.

We’re also heavily investing in talent development. By empowering the UAE’s youth with digital and creative skills essential for the future job market, we’re building a strong talent pool that can drive the gaming industry forward. This focus on youth and education ensures a sustainable, skilled workforce that will continue to drive innovation in the sector.

Could you share some success stories or tangible impacts of the ‘Game On for Climate Change’ program on the UAE’s youth?
One of the most significant impacts of the program has been its role in empowering the youth of the UAE. We have witnessed a remarkable increase in digital and creative skills among participants. Many of these young individuals, who previously had little to no experience in gaming or programming, are now developing games that not only entertain but also educate on important topics such as climate change. It is truly inspiring to witness their transformation into confident and skilled creators who are passionate about making a difference.

Mariët Westermann, the Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi, commended Endless Studios for bringing together talented peers and creating games with high production values in a short period. She emphasised how this initiative aligns with NYUAD’s mission to be a hub for collaboration and networking among young talent in the GCC and MENA countries.

The impact of our programs is also evident through direct feedback from the apprentices:

  • 97% of the apprentices believe that the program provided them with an opportunity they had never had access to before joining Endless Studios.
  • 94% believe that they acquired relevant skills during the program that will benefit them in their future careers.
  • 91% of the apprentices expressed their willingness to participate in the program again.
  • Importantly, 100% of the participants would recommend or strongly recommend the program to their friends.

How do these success stories align with and contribute to the UAE leadership’s vision for a youth-centric, sustainable future?
By equipping the youth with digital and creative skills, Endless Studios directly responds to the UAE leadership’s focus on empowering young people. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s vision emphasizes the importance of preparing the youth for the future job market, particularly in innovative and technology-driven sectors. Our program goes beyond teaching coding and design; it prepares young individuals for the future by fostering indispensable life skills.

The focus on climate change and sustainability in our ongoing program resonates with the UAE’s commitment to sustainable development. The UAE leadership has been vocal about the importance of environmental stewardship, and our program’s emphasis on creating games that address global challenges like climate change is a practical application of these principles. Through gaming, we’re making complex issues more accessible and engaging for young people, thereby fostering a generation that is more aware and proactive about environmental issues.

The success stories also showcase how gaming can be used as a tool for cultural exchange and global outreach, aligning with the UAE’s aim to be a global hub for cultural and technological innovation. Our program participants are not only creating games that have local relevance but also have the potential to resonate globally. This positions the UAE as a burgeoning epicentre for gaming and technological innovation, contributing to the nation’s reputation as a leader in these fields.

The tangible impact of these initiatives on the job market, with participants securing internships and positions in the gaming industry, directly contributes to the UAE’s goal of economic diversification and job creation. By fostering home-grown talent and opening up new career paths in the gaming sector, we are helping to realize the leadership’s vision of a diversified, knowledge-based economy.

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Gaming

Post Malone Curates Soundtrack to WWE 2K24 and Joins Playable Roster

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2K announced the WWE 2K24 Soundtrack, curated by music icon Post Malone. An avowed fan of both WWE and the WWE 2K franchise, Post Malone took on the role of Executive Soundtrack Producer and assembled an eclectic collection of songs across a variety of genres including rock, country, rap, electronic music, and pop. In addition to his soundtrack duties, the music megastar will also appear as a playable character in WWE 2K24, and will be available for purchase in a post-launch DLC pack.

“The secret to a great video game soundtrack is a little something for everyone and for every mood. It sgets you excited and it gets you pumped up to play,” said Post Malone. “This has been a total blast. We have a lot of cool ideas, so I’m super excited.”

“Austin’s passion for music is on full display with the artists and songs he chose for WWE 2K24, which accurately reflects the current soundscape of WWE,” said Neil Lawi, Head of Music, WWE. “It’s been so much fun working alongside him to make this all come to life and more so to witness the excitement it brings him. We are just getting started.”

The WWE 2K24 soundtrack features 12 songs, including:

  • Post Malone – Chemical
  • Post Malone – Laugh It Off
  • 100 gecs – Hand Crushed By A Mallet
  • Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See
  • Colter Wall – Motorcycle
  • Grimes – Genesis
  • Militarie Gun – Do It Faster
  • Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Big Rig
  • Speed – Not That Nice
  • Turnstile – Mystery
  • Tyler Childers – House Fire
  • Yeat -Bëttr 0ff

Three editions of WWE 2K24 will be available:

  • The Deluxe Edition will be available digitally worldwide, and physically in the US and select territories, on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, and will be available physically for the rest of the world on Friday, March 8, 2024
  • The Forty Years of WrestleMania Edition will be available – in digital format only – worldwide on Tuesday, March 5, 2024
  • The Standard Edition and Standard Cross-Gen Digital Edition will be available worldwide on Friday, March 8, 2024
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Creator Tools

Elgato Launches 4K X & 4K Pro Capture Cards

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Elgato has launched the 4K X and 4K Pro today. These capture cards are best suited for high-quality capture on PCs and current-generation consoles, recording each moment while preserving the tiniest details in modern games.

Both cards target separate markets, adding more versatility to the lineup. The 4K X is a USB card equipped with up to 4K 144Hz capture. Meanwhile, the 4K Pro is a PCIe card boasting 8K 60Hz passthrough.

The former is a compact capture card with essential features like HDMI 2.1 ports and USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity. It also supports VRR and HDR10. For seamless 4K 120FPS gameplay captures, Elgato’s 4K X does not disappoint. Breaking new ground, the capture card offers compatibility for the new iPad with USB-C support. Elsewhere, the 4K Pro offers enthusiast features, shipping with the same input/output port setup and HDR10 support.

Thanks to 4K60 and HDR10 capture, this is Elgato’s answer for high-end demands. It also enables 4K 240FPS passthrough for competitive gaming, allowing users to capture 1080p240 quality. Utilising a PCIe 2.0×4 connection, the 4K Pro is designed to work exclusively with Windows-based systems. Both capture cards support popular software like OBS Studio, Twitch Studio, Streamlabs Desktop, and more.

Elgato’s companion app is also included as part of the package, allowing users to capture and sort through recordings in addition to exporting files to software like Adobe Premier. The 4K X and 4K Pro are now available to buy. An 8K HDMI cable comes included with both capture cards, while the former ships with an additional USB 3.2 C-to-C cable. Backing these latest releases is a two-year warranty. Meanwhile, Corsair and Elgato will provide worldwide support for maximum customer satisfaction.

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Gadgets

CORSAIR Launches MP600 ELITE Series M.2 SSDs for Desktops, Laptops, and Consoles

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CORSAIR has announced the launch of the MP600 ELITE series of SSDs. The MP600 ELITE series is a lineup of high-performance PCIe 4.0 SSDs available with a range of cooling options to ensure you get the most from your storage whether you’re running a desktop PC, a laptop, or a Sony PlayStation 5 console.

Built using high-density 3D TLC NAND and available in 1TB and 2TB capacities at launch, with 4TB models coming in April, the MP600 ELITE series offers impressive sequential read performance of up to 7,000MB/sec and write performance of up to 6,500MB/sec*. This is bolstered by random read and write speeds of up to 1,000K and 1,200K IOPS respectively, making them ideal for gamers, creators, and hardware enthusiasts seeking impressive performance on a PCIe 4.0 platform. These SSDs are also backwards compatible with PCIe 3.0 systems.

The MP600 ELITE is available as a standard drive for use in both motherboards and laptops, with an integrated heat spreader, and also as a PS5-compatible model that slots directly into Sony’s latest consoles. Each drive offers AES 256-bit encryption as well as endurance of up to 1,200TBW. As the name suggests, the MP600 ELITE for PS5 has been specifically engineered for use in Sony’s latest console and features a low-profile aluminium heatsink that keeps the SSD cool even under the most intense gaming sessions.

The MP600 ELITE for PS5 exceeds all Sony PS5 M.2 performance requirements and is quick and easy to install into both the classic PS5 and the newer PS5 Slim consoles. Like all CORSAIR SSDs, the MP600 ELITE is supported by free CORSAIR SSD Toolbox software, enabling convenient features such as secure erase and firmware updates directly from your desktop. With a five-year warranty for extended peace of mind, your storage will remain fast and reliable for years to come.

The CORSAIR MP600 ELITE, MP600 ELITE with Heatspreader, and MP600 ELITE for PS5 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe M.2 SSDs are available immediately from the CORSAIR website and the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers and distributors. The MP600 ELITE series is backed by a five-year warranty, alongside the CORSAIR worldwide customer service and technical support network.

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