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An African kid in a refugee camp thought video games fell from heaven. Now he makes them

<b>An African kid in a refugee camp thought video games fell from heaven. Now he makes them</b>Lual Mayen grew up in a camp in Uganda. Now he's the award-winning CEO of a game development company in Washington, D.C., that has just released 'Salaam', a game about refugees and peace.
Lual Mayen, a young 25-year-old former Sudanese refugee who now lives in Washington DC, has created a video game that describes the lives of refugees and their survival during their plight in exile. Lual learned coding while still living in a refugee camp in Northern Uganda with a laptop that his mom had bought him for $300 that she had managed to save in three years. Because there was neither electricity nor internet in the camp, he walked three hours every day to have it charged in order to be able to use it. Then he learned coding from tutorials loaded onto a flash drive that a friend had given him. His video game, Salaam, takes the player through the dangers and perils faced by refugees and displaced persons. The aim is to survive the terrible plight of a displaced person, an experience his family knows well. Mayen was born while his family traveled 250 miles to escape the second civil war in South Sudan. Salaam allows people who have never had to flee a war-torn nation to take a virtual trip to a 'peaceful environment' -- only if they can escape from the warring factions and discover enough food, water and medicine during their perilous journey in order to survive. He hopes that his game will allow players to better understand what it means to be homeless, hungry, on the run and fight for survival. His vision is to use the game to inspire empathy for refugees. Mayen says he's working on a charitable component so that when players make in-app purchases of extra resources in the game, a portion would go towards helping refugees in camps. The game is free, but members have to buy food, water or medication for their virtual characters. Thus, they can make in-app purchases that will go to real refugees. "Living in a refugee camp is not easy," Mayen said in his talk at the GDC 2019 panel. "I asked what is the best way to restore a sustainable peace in my country? My main focus was to contribute something to my country.", he told the panel. "I realized the power of gaming," he said. "I realized games can be helpful for peace and conflict resolution. I started making a video game in my country, so video games can divert their minds from destructive activities.", he added. Mayen was named a Global Gaming Citizen at the 2018 Game Awards in Los Angeles, for using gaming to promote positivity and community. He's the global director of games partnerships at Facebook, which co-developed the Global Gaming Citizen category for the Game Awards. 


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