Coffee at the Bay Interview
“I was looking for meaning and I always look for meaning in life. I’d like to be honest in this interview because a lot of people do go through this themselves where you go through life but can’t help but feel that something is missing – we all get to that point.”
Tell me about yourself before you started this nonlinear path of starting your own thing?
I was passionate about games since I was a young child. I got my first console from my uncle. I started playing Mario and other video games throughout my life. However, I only discovered that a regular person could develop games in 2011 from watching a documentary called “Indie Game”. It focused on a few independent game developers; specifically two teams. They were creating games and I thought “Wow could you do that?”. I always thought creating games required a lot of magic but there were game engines that anyone can work with to create a game! If you had enough dedication then you can use those engines and start.
I started looking for a game community in Bahrain and stumbled across the Game Developers Community. It was run by Ameen Al Tajer at the time. They were doing some workshops, competitions and various other events. I dragged my friends to one of the events which was called Game Jam. We didn’t know anything about games ! We attended our first Game Jam with no experience and built a really horrible game. However, the encouragement we got from the community was great – they said that we were creative, and that was a good first attempt. They told us that we should come back and do this again.
We came back the next year as well and this was after I decided to self – teach myself more on game building. The theme of the second Game Jam was “Hope” and I could say that this was really the first game we built.
Tell us more about your first game “Hope” what was it about?
First game was called “Hope”. We wanted to make the game revolve around a cause. We chose depression as the main theme. The game was about a girl suffering from depression and throughout the game, you would activate hope to make her world more colorful. In addition, you could also even see new paths emerge as well. Otherwise her world in the game would remain grey and gloomy. From that experience we realized that you can make games about something important, and also have a fun element to it as well.
How did you and your Partner/Co-founder meet?
Sajad Hameed and I met at Dream Body Center where we both worked. We became friends there and realized that we shared a passion for games and volunteer work. We went on a volunteering trip to Turkey together soon after that. If I could describe the team dynamics - I’m more into the art, music and development. Sajad handles the business development side of things. Both us work with the creative aspects but that’s an area I’m definitely more passionate about.
Tell us about your trip to Turkey that triggered your first official game “MUSA”
In 2014, Sajad and I took a trip to Turkey. At the time, we were almost married. We saw a lot of refugee children in Istanbul, and that shocked us. At the time, the media wasn’t talking a lot about that issue. It definitely caught us by surprise. I specifically remember a family living under a bridge and we would pass them every time we were heading to the city center. The family and their children lived under that bridge. It was October which was very cold in Istanbul- That stuck with me when I came back to Bahrain.
MUSA is a game you built about two refugee brothers and their fight for survival, tell us more about that. What was the inspiration behind Musa? We feel like this game has a personal touch to it
My Turkey trip was definitely the trigger. It led us to create a game about refugee brothers because we met the children there, and the characters’ dress sense was inspired by them actually. A fresh memory was tied to two brothers around the Blue Mosque area. At the time, no one really talked about their experience and I wanted to communicate that visually.
When you talk to a kid that has been through a trauma like that - their roles change in life. Now you’re protecting each other’s life. I wanted the games we were creating to give a humanistic touch. I wanted to show their story so when others see a refugee on the streets - it changes the way you look at it.
In addition, 2.5% of our revenue will go back to a foundation in Turkey. We are in the process of that. I like to think of myself as an activist through art – I want to show a story through art to affect people.
“I like to think of myself as an activist through art – show a story through art to affect people. ”
Please read the full interview at https://www.bahrainfintechbay.com/the-stories-studio