If you took away the lush farmland of Zynga’s FarmVille and replaced it with a desert in the middle of nowhere you would have Happy Oasis a middle east version of the popular game that has already attracted more than 100,000 active social gamers.
Developed by Aranim Games the product offers Arabic and English versions and asks players to create their own “Oasis” in the desert.
The game is not only a “build up your land” setup, it also attempts to bring modern day struggles to the masses, for example both men and women can drive cars in the game, a current major issue of contention in Saudi Arabia.
Company CEO Suleiman Bakhit told Mashable that his company is better equipped than most to deal with social issues in the Middle East, noting:
“There are serious cultural issues that are extremely sensitive … most western companies won’t know how to deal with these issues.”
The game started as a comic book in which Bakhit chronicled a beating he received near his Minnesota university following the 9/11 attacks. In his comic books, also published under the Aranim company name he speaks about social issues in the area, features Arab heroes and attempts to teach school age children important lessons about tolerance.
The company currently employs 12 people and is funded by comic book sales which have already topped 1.2 million copies sold, although Bahkit is looking to raise further capital in order to expand the company’s operations.
Here’s a video showcasing some of the social games play:
While the company still has a long way to go in terms of catching up to Zynga and their massive network of gamers which has surpassed 250 million actively monthly users (AMU’s), they have one advantage over their competition, as they focus on a specific geographical area they can hyper-target users for a specific demographic which could come in handy as the advertising landscape continues to evolve.
My favorite part of the game? It does what more social games should do, allows for fun gameplay while teaching important lessons about life and specifically tolerance.
Have you tried Happy Oasis? Let us know what you think about the concept and the actual gameplay, as the company grows I expect we’ll see better products with even more social relevance from their team.