Sometimes, childhood experiences can lead to great inventions. At least, this stands true for 25-year-old Lual Mayen who invented a video game that lets you live and experience the horrific ordeals of a refugee.

He invented the video game to give players a better understanding of what it means to homeless, hungry, penniless and on the run. So, essentially ‘Salaam’ is based on Lual’s own childhood experiences.

When Lual was born, his family traveled 250 miles to escape South Sudan’s second civil war. 

He was a refugee himself who spent the first 22 years of his life in a refugee camp in northern Uganda before he eventually moved to the United States.

While recalling his families stories about bomb attacks, wild animals and how infants were abandoned by parents who could no longer take care of them, Lual Mayen said

A lot of people don’t understand the journey of a refugee. It was a journey of life and death.

In the game, you’ll have to flee gunfire, survive days without food and battle fatigue. 

The game is free to download but, when you need to buy food, water or medicines for your characters in the game, you’ll have to make in-app purchases that will go to real-life refugees. 

So basically, when you are buying food in the game, you’re actually buying food for someone in an actual refugee camp. 

While growing up, Mayen had never seen how a computer looks or how it functions until, one day he went to the camp’s registration center when he was 12-years-old. He said

It was a moment that actually helped me to understand, wow, I want to use this one day.

Lual’s mother worked hard for the next three years to earn money so that her son could buy a brand new laptop. 

She collected $300 and brought Lual a laptop that he used to watch free online game tutorials to build the game. 

Soon, his game went viral and caught the attention of the gaming industry after he uploaded it on Facebook. At the Game Awards in 2018, in Los Angeles, he was named a Global Gaming Citizen.

People on social media are also talking about his inspiring story. Take a look.

Now, he owns a studio in Washington DC where he designs games to help players build peace and harmony. 

He hopes that his game will show people the reality of refugee camps so that players build empathy for refugees. 

Lual also hopes the young generation will follow his footsteps and give wings to their dreams too.