Sandsoft Games – the mobile-first game developer, publisher and investor powered by AAA talent, is thrilled to announce the launch of the second season of its pioneering internship program, Press Start. Available to local residents with an interest in getting into the games industry, the full-time internships aim to foster and nurture exceptional talent for the gaming industry in Saudi Arabia.
Following the success of the first Press Start initiative which began in December 2022, aspiring games industry professionals are once again invited to embark on the journey of creating a playable mobile game within a span of six months. Aligned with Vision 2030, the Press Start initiative has been engineered to nurture diverse local talent and provide a boost to the regional games industry. The Press Start cohort will receive support from Sandsoft’s leading industry experts in various areas, allowing them to specialize in one of three disciplines: design, art, or coding.
Successful applicants will work from Sandsoft’s flagship Riyadh Studio, with access to cutting-edge equipment and resources. Press Start is overseen by a team of esteemed games industry veterans who have contributed to renowned gaming franchises like Candy Crush Saga, FIFA, World of Tanks, Need For Speed and more, including Sandsoft’s Head of Studio in Riyadh, Yahsir Qureshi.
Yahsir Qureshi commented:
“Riyadh is a city full of exceptional, diverse talent and love of gaming. It’s our job to identify this talent and help nurture future leaders who will shape the legacy of the KSA and global games industries. The tremendous success of our original Press Start program has been immensely rewarding for both the participants and Sandsoft Games as a whole, with a number of interns expected to join us as full time team members. Initiatives such as Press Start play a significant role in boosting employment prospects in the region and we can’t wait to welcome a new cohort to our Riyadh studio.”
Basem Alasmar, Game Designer at Sandsoft Games and member of the inaugural Press Start program, continued:
“When I first saw the program on LinkedIn, I was immediately drawn to the idea and the challenge it presented. Working in a gaming company has always been a dream of mine, so I was naturally intrigued. What captivated me even more were the experienced individuals at Sandsoft Games and the impressive game titles they had worked on. Their expertise and track record truly impressed me. This program continues to inspire me to strive for greatness, pushing me to create amazing things, learn extensively, and enhance my skills in my chosen field.”
Press Start is open to Saudi Individuals of any age and educational background who have a demonstrable interest in game development and are available to work in Riyadh. Applications are open until July 7, 2023, at 23:59 AST.
Fandoms Unite at the Inaugural NEXUS FAN FAIR, Organised by Philippine Blockchain Week 2023, in Manila on Sept. 19-21
Pop culture universes will collide when the first-ever NEXUS FAN FAIR launches in the Philippines. Presented by Tier One Entertainment and organised by Philippine Blockchain Week 2023 (PBW) from September 19 to 21 at the MGBX Convention Hall in Newport World Resorts’ Marriott Grand Ballroom, NEXUS FAN FAIR will be an epic celebration for fans of gaming, technology, entertainment, music and more.
Fans of every kind will enjoy browsing the expo area, where merchant booths will offer a variety of games, merchandise and other collectibles. The electrifying event will feature top tier talents such as world champion-caliber esports team Blacklist International, alongside renowned streamers and content creators. Ticket holders will have the exclusive opportunity to win exciting giveaways and collectibles unavailable anywhere else. In addition, the community stage will host a series of engaging talks and panel discussions featuring handpicked artists, influencers and celebrities, all of whom will be available for Meet-and-Greets.
Meanwhile, at Philippine Blockchain Week, K-Pop followers will get a special treat with the debut Southeast Asian performance of the TripleS sub-unit EVOLution, hot on the release of their sister sub-unit LOVElution’s first album. As a special bundle, tickets for NEXUS FAN FAIR will be free of charge for fans who purchase an EVOLution concert ticket.
Since 2017, Tier One Entertainment has led the field in esports and gaming entertainment in Southeast Asia. With NEXUS FAN FAIR, Tier One will solidify their position as the premiere destination for pop culture lifestyle.
NEXUS FAN FAIR is organised by Philippine Blockchain Week 2023 with the participation of platinum sponsors Smart Communications and Philippine Airlines; gold sponsors Metafarms and TierOne Entertainment; and bronze sponsors Gala Games, Assemble Stream Inc, Maya Philippines and technology partner Xctuality Pte Ltd. PBW’s official legal partner is Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, while platinum media partners include DOOH and Rakuten Viber; gold media partners are CNN Philippines, Forkast News, Philstar Media Group and YourPRStrategist; and silver media partners are Jinse Finance and KTRO Media.
Melco Ready for 20% Investment Pledge Increase: CEO
The gaming operators and the Macau government share the same goals, despite delays in diversification plan discussions, the chairman and CEO of Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Lawrence Ho, indicated. The company is also ready to tackle a 20% investment pledge increase once GGR levels top $22.45 billion, says the executive.
Under their new 10-year concessions, which commenced on January 1, the gaming companies have already pledged to spend in aggregate MOP108.7 billion ($13.5 billion) on non-gaming and exploring overseas tourist markets. The figure comprises more than 91% of their total pledged investment under the 10-year licenses.
Macau’s Chief Executive revealed in April that the six gaming operators had submitted proposals for boosting the local economy in mid-March, and that the Government wanted to adjust its policy according to the gaming operators’ proposals, with lively negotiations ongoing between the government and the local government.
“We have a lot of dialogue with the government, with a lot of different agencies. I think everyone shares the same goal of diversifying the market and bringing more international visitors, and more demographics. We are supportive and will continue to talk to the government, to make sure we are on the same page,” Ho said.
As much as MOP11.8 billion ($1.5 billion) was pledged by Melco late last year for it to secure another 10-year concession term from 2023 to 2032. About MOP10 billion ($1.2 billion) of it, or around 85%, was to be allocated to non-gaming initiatives.
Ho also underlined that despite any disagreement there have been no talks to increase the pledged investment amount as of now.
Still, Ho was adamant that even if there is a need for a 20% increase in the investment pledge, Melco would be able to absorb that increase.
Macau Labour Association Seeks to Strengthen Labour Rights Protection for Casino Employees
One of the largest labour associations in Macau has submitted a request to authorities, asking for increased guarantees of rest and improvements in working conditions for casino employees, with government intervention.
The Federation of Associations of Workers of Macau (FAOM) made the request after noticing that the return of visitors to Macau is putting additional work pressure on casino employees.
In a meeting with the SAR’s Labour Affairs Bureau last week, representatives from FAOM advocated for the reinforcement of labour rights protection for workers, especially those in the gaming sector. The association also urged the government to take the initiative to negotiate with gaming concessionaires to ensure employee rest time.
Choi Kam Fu, vice president of FAOM, noted that due to surges in work volume, gaming industry employees experience frequent changes in work shifts, which have a relatively greater impact on the physical and psychological health of employees.
Macau lawmaker Leong Sun Iok revealed that he has received some complaints about the management of gaming companies. He reported the issues to the government, stating that the casinos in Macau have implemented stricter management methods due to the surge in visitor volumes.
In response, the director of Labour Affairs Bureau, Wong Chi Hong, promised that he will always maintain an open attitude and actively listen to the views of various stakeholders, including employees and employers, on labour legislation.
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