Salaam, the Arabic word for peace, is a video game of its own league. While playing in the shoes of a refugee, the premise of the game is unique because the goal is to simply survive and find peace. The game allows you to empathise with the struggles asylum seekers face and relate to their fears.

The game’s storyline was created by a refugee himself.

The 25-year-old developer, Lual Mayen from Sudan, was born during his family’s 200-mile journey to a refugee camp in Uganda. At the camp, Mayen’s mother saw her young son’s interest in computers, so she saved $300 over three years and gifted him a laptop.

Determined to prove the value of his mother’s gift, Mayen created the first version of a peace-building game for friends at the refugee camp as a means of distraction and entertainment.

The game has since evolved into a tool that allows players to step into the life of a refugee escaping conflict.

Truly Belong -A video game that promotes peace and conflict resolution

The social impact behind this game is huge, Leo Olebe, the Global Director of Games Partnerships at Facebook, told NPR. “Lual is actually making a difference in this world by inspiring people to be better,” he said, alluding to Salaam’s feature that allows the player to make in-app, real-time purchases for food and water for refugees.

Read also: Netflix’s ‘Living Undocumented’ is a Difficult Series to Watch, and Exactly Why We Should

The young developer’s motivation to use technology to change people’s attitudes towards refugees and inspiring future policymakers led him to be named the Global Gaming Citizen at the 2018 Game Awards.

Truly Belong - Salaam

Now, Mayen runs his own gaming company in Washington, where he’s working on further advancing Salaam. In a world where harmful discourse surrounding immigration is normalised, Mayen is determined to create
a future where refugees are welcomed with open arms.

Salaam is set to release soon.

“This story first appeared in the 2021 print issue of Truly Belong under the title “Salaam”.

Aisha Mohamed