Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Clockwise, starting from top left: "Call of Duty 4," "Street Fighter V," "Overwatch," and "Rainbow Six." Images via Engadget, Blizzard, Ubisoft and Capcom. Image credit: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

There's been a major shift in recent years in how video games represent Arabs, but developers are still struggling to find their footing and not rely on problematic stereotypes.

Why it matters: Arab cultures have been coded in harmful stereotypes in games for decades.

  • During a recent Games for Change panel called, "Arab Voices in Games" four developers discussed Arab/Amazigh/Mena-Indigenous representation in video games and the problems they still face.
  • These vary from more benign mistakes, like bad translations or presenting Arabic writing as left to right. More seriously, it reduces Arab characters to terrorists and enemy fodder.

The big picture: The game industry is getting better at creating diverse characters, including Pharah in "Overwatch" or Nomad in "Rainbow Six Siege."

  • But the panelists feel like there's a need for video games to normalize Arab cultures and voices in more meaningful ways. That means moving away from this idea they are "sandy villages with jeeps, with machine guns, and really there's nothing in the region besides fights," said developer Rami Ismail.
  • "I would like spooky Arabs. I would like happy Arabs. I would like silly Arabs. I would like funny Arabs. I would like overly serious Arabs, I would like unlikable Arabs."
  • For now, he says, developers still have to fight to make games about Arab cultures in a way that doesn't use stereotypes. If you're making a game about Egyptian culture, for example, you might have to explain "yeah, no, there's no pyramids."

Final thought: Ubisoft head of communications and localization Malek Teffaha, imitating the stereotypical ululating vocals video games use in their games with Middle Eastern locations, had one request: "Just please get rid of that soundtrack. Please, please, everyone just stop."

If developers and investors want to make impactful change in the game industry, Perfect Garbage co-founder and studio director Son M. had some simple advice: "Money. Give me your money."

Why it matters: Creating meaningful change in the gaming industry's makeup requires both creating space for marginalized creators and throwing support behind them.

  • Although there are funding initiatives for smaller creators to tap into, Son says these diversity inclusion funds "are capped all the time" and developers ultimately have to find additional ways to fully fund their projects.
  • "Without that kind of money, you can't have teams you can support, like a growing studio," they said during the Games for Change panel. "I really think that at least pouring money into these initiatives, it's a great start."

State of play: The indie and AAA spaces often differ in their approach.

  • This is "because a lot of devs who are coming from our cultural backgrounds are making games and are putting themselves in the forefront," according to Son.
  • They added that they haven't seen that attitude fully bleed into AAA games, as the industry "still isn't fully receptive yet."
  • "There's kind of the subtle three-strike rule when you're pitching a game, what is risky. And apparently brown and Black characters as main characters in some genres are a risk factor."

What's next: In order to move the industry forward, big studios will have to do their part.

  • "I think AAA actually has a really important part to play in using the resources that they have to get these things of representation right and to normalize getting these representations right," said Ismail.
  • "The push is definitely coming from indie," he added. "But in AAA, that's where a lot of the fight feels like it is right now."

Go deeper

Video game developers struggle to fix "crunch culture"

Naughty Dog co-presidents Neil Druckmann (left) and Evan Wells. Photo: Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Game developers aired diverging views this weekend about whether encouraging developers to work "passionately" on a game is cover for inducing them to work too much.

Why it matters: Crunch has been accepted as a real, impactful issue within the game industry, but there still isn't a simple fix applicable to the entire sector.

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

12 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."