In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t allowed to drive on the street… but they can get behind the wheel in a new, locally-developed video game published by a prince. No, really. Saudi Girls Revolution has just been released, developed by NA3M, a company created by Prince Fahad bin Faisal Al Saud, grandson of the brother of the king.
The game itself is a bit great. A world war has wiped out 75% of the world’s population after the significant loss of natural resources. Eight Saudi women wear traditional full-length black abayas, and cruise around the corrupted Arabian Empire on high-speed motorbikes, destroying zombie cybersoldiers and blasting villains, including baboon kings, crystal giants, mutants and fire dancers. In case you were wondering, Prince Fahad says it’s been designed to change the world.
The Prince hopes that the “kick-ass” Saudi Girls Revolution will “inspire women to see themselves in roles that are equal to men”. He was raised by “strong, independent women” and grew up playing foreign games with powerful female characters (namechecking Tomb Raider as an inspiration).
If we can tell people stories about women driving, maybe they will, maybe it will actually happen.
Saudi Girls Revolution is set for release on both iOS and Android platforms later this year, and will be free to play. All copies come with a digital comic book to explain a bit more about the eight hreoines of the story – and the “girls” of the title are anything but stereotypes: Um Bandar, the elderly leader, trains women to fight for themselves. Twins Asma and Allanoud stand up against religious bigotry. Hussa is gay. Leila is from society’s privileged upper class. One, we’re told, is even a cyborg.
I wanted to engage the Saudi community… to allow them to be comfortable and familiar and used to these types of visuals.
It’s not unusual for games to play a part in social change, but Saudi Girls Revolution is unique. The developer’s literal royal pedigree doesn’t hurt, of course. Prince Fahad hopes that “every single individual who owns a phone plays” – and that includes his entire royal family.