Smart phone apps seem to cover virtually every aspect of human activity but a software developer in war-torn South Sudan has created a program he hopes will have a more meaningful impact than most.
Rather than catching imaginary creatures or posting filtered photographs, the game Salaam aims to promote unity and combat sectarianism in a country shaken by a two-year civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths.
Developer Lual Michael Mayen, 24, said it was available for Android devices and involves destroying bombs in the air before they can harm people on the ground. Success is rewarded by a message congratulating the player on saving lives.
Mayen’s company, Junub Games, has also produced a similar board game called Wahda, which means “unity” in Arabic while salaam means “peace”.
“Junub Games aims to help in addressing the ongoing conflict in our country,” he said. “It intends to replace other games like dominos with a more meaningful one for peaceful engagement and lead to reconciliation among communities.”
The board game will be distributed in refugee camps in northern Uganda and civilian protection sites across South Sudan, where more than 200,000 displaced people are currently sheltering.
“We will take the board game to IDP [internally displaced person] settlements across the country and to refugee camps in neighboring countries,” Mayen added. “It will encourage unity and sense of togetherness.”