A Maze Johannesburg Festival 2013 Presentation

Hey All,
I know I should have posted that article long ago after I return back from Johannesburg, but the truth is I was busy finishing my games and also somehow lazy to post about my presentation I gave there which is called “be Different”.
That version I will be posting here contain more details than the one I presented at A Maze


Why do we play games?
In Egypt if you say that word some will tell you just wasting time although if you told them you can waste it by other activities like reading but they choose to play games cause it makes them happy or change their mood or take their attention or communicating with other people through multiplayer games or just seeking some challenge either via PC or via other Human

All these stuff I said is experience …. people play games to experience feelings and emotions


Games is a system of rules and interactions that we can use it to transfer a certain experience from game designers (most of the time) to players so it’s a medium or channel for transferring experience like all other mediums (e.g. books, movies, music …etc).

For example “Aquaria” by Alec Holwaka it wants you to make you feel comfortable enjoy every second exploring the game seeing the result of every action
So it transferred that experience using

  • Visuals: nice underwater plants and colors
  • Sound and Music: nice calm music give you time to breathe and to relax
  • Story: it is revealed one at a time and doesn’t show a lot every time to give you curiosity to explore
  • Level Design: every scene in the game is designed well with lots of nice colors and plants and creatures to give you pleasant sight and relaxing sensation
  • Mechanics: controls are smooth and game mechanics are exploratory every time you get new song that give you new power which reveal new paths that are inaccessible before or make you explore old paths in a new way

By the way you could make every aspect of the game perfect without checking others but if you done that you will end up with a normal game because to transfer a good experience to player all aspects should collaborate to have that notion.

focusing on mechanics is a very important aspect in the game because its the interaction that makes games differ from others.


Some of AAA games don’t give any attention for mechanics. They just use well known Mechanics and makes a new game (FPS games). That’s because most AAA games have high production cost so sometimes they can’t risk using new mechanics and systems that can make them fail or not appealing to players so they use well known mechanics (known for huge revenue) and sometimes make some changes on it.

That’s why we should try to find new mechanics and sharing it with rest of the world to show to the industry there is lots of mechanics unexplored

And what a better way to explore the mechanics than participating in GameJams
A very good example for that 7DFPS created by Rami Ismail where you have to create FPS game during 7 days this gamejam showed to the industry that even FPS mechanics and games still have lots of hidden potential and they should dig more and explore it more.

Btw I never managed to participate in it but definitely one day I will.


We should think about the experience that is delivered to the player and how to make it a new experience or a memorable one

The most interesting technique to get new experience is by experimenting:

  • new technologies (sometimes the way some technologies are organized and how it works get you an idea around that)
  • control schemes (like flying, swimming, driving car …etc)
  • real life mechanics (liquid flow, sand dunes, fumes …etc)

Expressing personal stuff

  • Feeling/Emotion (being in love, being sad, feeling surprised, transfer a feeling or emotion you have to the player)
  • Thought (expressing your point of view about something happens in society or about a topic …etc)
  • Experience (expressing something u passed through it or something happened to you or a dream …etc)

Nostalgia to an old genre may be doing it in a new way or just do it and make it better and correct some problems in design it had before


As I said before people here think games are for kids they are waste of time (even some young adult feel like that) and that’s difficult to be changed and even if you could change that they don’t try the game unless it’s using the next generation of graphics.

Also what make it harder that there is no support not from your family nor society .

  • For example my family always kept discouraging me, whenI was 12 years old I made a game (Kanfooz) they never thought its an achievement or be surprised or say anything good. They just tell me to do something useful and stop wasting my time and wasting others
  • The society is the same, they never take me serious and always saying that you must find a real job. When you tell someone you are game designer or developer first question can/do you make a game like Assassins Creed.
  • Due to that I always get depressed and feel down and whenever I fail there is no one there for me which was kinda-hard (I have passed through tough years where everyday my family tell me to leave what I am doing and my friends don’t care and you find yourself alone with no support and no one there for you)

Also to sell games in Egypt is almost impossible, in Egypt people doesn’t believe in software copyrights and they always get cracked copies of software so what about a game? That’s a dream. So the best strategy is to make free games with ads but here come the other problem that most people who play games either people wants cracked AAA titles or kids who wants games like Farmville, other types of games doesn’t have any market here.


All these problems led me to be Different

  • Being different will help me to prove to people here that games are not a waste of time and it’s a medium like all other mediums to transfer experience
    • I created games about political problems in Egypt (Mindless)
    • transferring love feeling (Simple Love)
    • persistence to achieve goals if you fail (Loss)
    • just expressing some of my crappy dreams (Crappy Dreams)
  • Also it will help me to target global market and since the market world wide is fierce and there are lots of games I have to struggle with so I have to stand out and be different.


Since I am Teacher Assistant at the university (computer department) so I have lots of students who play computer games so I always tell and show them indiegames and encourage them to make games and express themselves through games and encourage them to enter Gamejams

Organzing gamejams in Egypt and encourage people to participate and that wouldn’t happen without the support of GameTako (an arabic foundation that try to increase the connections between all game developers across the middle east)

Became a writer for Indiegames.com so I can be a portal for the arab developers to the world and help them to get noticed because there are really some amazing developers in middle east (The more developer we have the more games we have with different points of views and different experiences)

Created Egyptian Game Dev Group so people can depend on each other talk to each other collaborate find same mindset so people don’t feel alone anymore (we are still at the beginning)

Created around 30 games so far some of them are quietly known and some of them are totally garbage

  • Increase my exposure to the world
  • Made me feel I am not alone and there are people sharing my feelings
  • Increase my self confidence (as I never had one before)

Most of these games are created in GameJams and ExperimentalGameplay or LudumDare


That’s everything for now 🙂 Hope it was good and it inspires someone to do games 🙂

Bye Bye

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