Refugee turned game developer creating new gaming experience

He lived in a refugee camp for 22 years. Now, he's developing a video game that's giving gamers the power to save real lives through their gameplay.

Promoting peach by creating video games

Lual Mayen is a CEO video game developer who wants to use the power of games for peace. He is originally from South Sudan, which is a country that is ripped apart by civil war. His family fled the country to find a place of refuge. “All my family wanted was to, you know, to live a better life and also be able to see a place where they can have a place of peace in your mind, where they can wake up in the morning and don't hear a sound of gun,” he explains. Before coming to
Washington D.C., Lual spent the first 22 years of his life living in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. The first time he saw a computer was when there was a refugee registration, and laptops were brought in to be able to enter all the data. “One day I came to my mother and I asked and I said, Hey, I need to buy a computer. And she, like, laughed at me. And she said what are you going to do with a computer, there's no there's no power where you can charge it. And there's no Internet, and there is no money for us can buy the laptop… She works so hard without letting me know. And for over three years, looking for 300 dollars. […] And she came to me one day and she was like, Hey, I got the dollars for you so you can go and buy a computer, you know? That moment changed my life,” he recalls.

Helping real and virtual people

Lual’s new game Salaam, which means peace in Arabic, comes from personal experience. The main character is based on his mother’s journey. Furthermore, the game represents the journey that a lot of refugees go through, and as a player, you are taking that responsibility to be able to help people and get them to their final destination. “Whenever you buy food on your game, actually buying food for someone in a refugee camp. When you buy water in the game, you're actually buying someone in a refugee camp. So you're creating impact. You're not just playing the game,” he reveals. This is one of the reasons he likes games and finds them to be so amazing. The player is making all the decisions and the one saving lives, especially with this game. There is a feature in Salaam that lets players help save a life in the real world when they save a life in the game.

The premiere of his game

Lual premiered his game at the 2019 Game Awards – with a release planned for the summer of 2020. “It was really unbelievable for me to see myself as an African game designer and someone from a refugee came to come to the U.S. and also have the opportunity to give you my game. At the game award, like. It was it was really unbelievable for me… For me, it was in my dream when I was in a refugee camp that I would have a company and a team. And I'm like things that are going on, you know? But like. That's the vision. That's a vision for everybody, no matter where you are, you can always make it no matter where you are. There's that human talent that is always there for you,” he concludes.