Can a video game save a life? African refugee puts players in his race for survival


WASHINGTON – The target of Lual Mayen’s online video activity is to endure the horrific ordeal of a refugee, an working experience that his household is aware of very well, but the 25-year-previous developer’s ambition is to improve the earth.

Mayen, who was born as his relatives traveled 250 miles to escape South Sudan’s 2nd civil war, hopes his recreation, Salaam, will give players a far better knowing of what it means to be homeless, hungry and on the operate.

“A lot of people really don’t fully grasp the journey of a refugee,” stated Mayen, 25, who and expended his very first 22 yrs in a refugee camp in northern Uganda right before shifting to the United States.

“It was a journey of lifetime and loss of life,” he said, recalling loved ones stories about bomb attacks, wild animals and how babies ended up abandoned by mothers and fathers who could no for a longer period care for them.

Now head of his individual movie recreation corporation in Washington, Mayen thinks that “gamification,” where contributors make decisions in contrast to the passive encounter of looking at a film, puts ordinary persons in the sneakers of a refugee.

Salaam, an Arabic greeting that means peace, permits buyers who have under no circumstances had to flee a war-torn country to choose a digital trek to a “peaceful environment” — if they can dodge hostile troops and locate ample food items and drinking water.

Bridging the virtual and real worlds

Video game developer Lual Mayen, 25, who learned to code in a refugee camp after fleeing South Sudan, plays his new game at his home in Washington, DC.
Reuters

Whilst the match is no cost to perform, when participants require to invest in food, drinking water or drugs for their virtual figures, they can make in-application purchases that will go to serious-daily life refugees, he mentioned.

“Salaam is going to be the to start with-ever activity that is going to bridge the virtual world and the actuality on the ground,” he said. “When an individual buys food items in the video game, you are truly purchasing an individual in a refugee camp meals.”

But Mayen also has a lengthy activity in intellect, hoping that Salaam will enlighten today’s teens when they become the next era of policymakers.

“When they’re creating coverage, they’ll already recognize what refugees encounter, just by enjoying my sport,” he said. “That’s essentially how we alter the entire world and how we can be equipped to use the market for great.”

Increasing up in a refugee camp, Mayen experienced by no means even observed a laptop or computer until one particular working day, at age 12, he described to the camp’s registration heart.

Video game developer Lual Mayen.
Reuters

“It was a minute that really assisted me to recognize, wow, I want to use this 1 working day,” he stated.

For the next three several years, his mom, whom he manufactured the major character in Salaam, worked tirelessly to stash away $300 to acquire him a laptop computer, which he now keeps in a glass show situation in his apartment.

His video game went viral soon after he uploaded it to Fb and caught the awareness of the gaming market. In 2018, he was named a International Gaming Citizen at the Video game Awards in Los Angeles.

“To be equipped to … characterize the continent and characterize the activity for social effect, it offers me so substantially hope,” he claimed. “It presents a lot more refugees hope.”



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