Major Videogame developer seeks KAUST talent

Participants at Steer Studios Company Day

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) hosted a ‘next-level’ Steer Studios Company Day event, illustrating synergistic opportunities between these institutions to supercharge Saudi Arabia’s thriving gaming and electronic sports sector, while also demonstrating enticing career prospects for KAUST students.

Steer Studios is the global games studio arm of Savvy Games Group, which aims to invest SAR 142 billion — primarily via the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The Kingdom plans to establish 250 game companies in the country, creating 39,000 jobs. 

“For Steer Studios, our goal is to develop the videogame industry, but also develop the local talent — this is important,” said Eric Pepin, Steer Studios Vice President of Operations. He told KAUST students their skills are required across a spectrum of videogame-related positions in marketing, computer engineering, 3D art, animation, game design, et cetera. — all requiring backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). “Videogames are a mixture of the creation and the programming.”

Held as part of the In-Kingdom Career Launch Program (IKCLP), the career-focused event featuring Riyadh-based Steer Studios was a Strategic National Advancement (SNA) initiative demonstrating KAUST’s dedication to fostering a highly-skilled Saudi workforce aligning human capacity development with Vision 2030 aspirations. Along with an informative presentation, key Steer Studios representatives interviewed and networked with KAUST students.

Dr. Najah Ashry, KAUST Vice President for SNA, said Steer Studios Career Day exemplifies the University’s unwavering dedication to nurturing the Kingdom’s research, development, and innovation in a thriving gaming and esports sector. “This event epitomizes the strategic alignment of our work in prioritizing the realization of dynamic collaborations that support Saudi economic growth and the career prosperity for our students.”

She added: “Forging relationships with a leading, high-tech Saudi employers, such as Steer Studios, helps ensure KAUST’s alignment with all three pillars of our new strategy, providing the homegrown talent and research prospects that help take the Kingdom into a bold and prosperous future.”

Student Enthusiasm

For Besmelh Alshaalan, a first-year computer science master’s student, the Steer Studios event enabled her to learn more about videogame development and animation. She suggested that collaboration between Steer Studios and KAUST holds not only promise for gaming and esports, but for growth and talent development in Saudi Arabia’s broader creative space.

The KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP) alumna, who obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in May 2023, remains excited about her own prospects of landing a job in a new and creative field within the Kingdom. “It’s fun to see a lot of industries booming and more opportunities.”

Mohamed Saleem, who is in the last semester of his statistics data science master’s program, sees job prospects in data analysis or possibly artificial intelligence with a company such as Steer Studios. Saleem, who participated in the walk-in interview process, said the potential exists for more collaboration between Steer Studios and KAUST in terms of research and courses that further help this sector thrive in-Kingdom. “I’m excited to see what happens in the future.”

About Steer Studios

Savvy Games Group is a games and esports company formed with a mission to drive the long-term growth and development of esports and the broader games industry worldwide. Steer Studios plays a crucial role in realizing this vision, resulting in significant job prospects within the Kingdom for the STEM-trained enthusiasts that KAUST produces.

Steer Studios currently has a staff of 65. The company aims to grow to 100 by year-end 2023, noted Pepin, and close to 200 in 2024. This requires recruitment and training, while also providing career opportunities.

In terms of potential collaboration between Steer Studios and KAUST, he added, Steer Studios requires videogame skills that KAUST’s expertise could support, for example, in AI research, marketing, data engineer and data analytics. Overall, Pepin sees Steer Studio’s first visit to KAUST as productive. “I hope we’ll have close collaboration and can have more students joining the studio when they graduate.”