When people have to leave their homelands when their lives are in danger, they learn that there are things they will never forget.
If at any point in a desperate situation faced with the choice between survival and flight, one would choose the last resort, says Rawand Ahmed, who fled Iraq with his family as a child.
This is one of the things he wants to share with people who are wondering about the nature of that experience.
The Kurdish man, who currently lives in Germany, is developing computer games, using his life experiences to be the focus of the game he is developing.
Sitting in front of his office in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Ahmed says that after answering questions about what he went through over and over again, he decided to find a way to convey those memories, but in a different way.
Ahmed is currently putting the final touches on one of the characters that appear in his game. The concept of the game is to “make an escape route”.
An idea whose time has come to implement it. His game was so praised that Ahmed was nominated for an award from the German government.
“It’s a gesture of appreciation for me,” says Ahmed. He adds that it has not been easy for him to turn the experience of escape – an emotional and complex subject – into a game, describing the work as a constant balance between seriousness and play.
Others also realize that this work has requirements, and does not always go as planned.
On the other hand, says Jan-Michael Pullmann, an expert in computer games at the University of Applied Sciences in Freiburg, “It can be very difficult to strike the right balance when games are developed around serious topics.”
But the effort is worth it, because serious games also provide opportunities. “When we play, we can absorb the experiences of others, and therefore understand the world a little better,” says Pullman.
This makes it easier to understand situations that are unimaginable to many, he explains.
Games are usually more convenient than traditional media, says Felix Falk of the German Game Industry Association.
Unlike when one watches a movie, computer gamers are forced to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences of their choices.
The game, called “The Way Forward”, is still under development, but once completed, it will revolve around various experiences and paths to escape, whether from Syria or the former German Democratic Republic, and whether the fugitive is a man or a woman.
Ahmed says on his website that the game reviews the difficulties that refugees go through in lands that are experiencing turmoil for various reasons, such as wars, famines, natural disasters or persecution because of their religious beliefs.
During the game, players must secure the safety of the characters they play by collecting resources.
At the moment, Ahmed says he is not interested in the issue of not making any profits from his project yet. “For me, it is worth it. I want to develop something where I can make a difference.”
The game developer has established his own company, and in the future he also wants to address through his games topics such as mental health and the conflicts surrounding the issue of climate change.