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"Why would I want to relocate to the UK?"

"Why would I want to relocate to the UK?"

Earlier in May, Syrian game developer Abdullah Karam was denied entry into the UK just days before he was due to visit the country to potentially collect the Indie Prize award at Casual Connect Europe in London.

Karam is a refugee residing in Austria who fled his native Syria following its civil war. His debut project is Path Out, an adventure game that details his flight from Syria in 2014.

Just days before he was meant to fly to the UK, his visa application was rejected owing to the UK authorities taking issue with a lack of evidence of his financial status, as well as the fact he has two children - he does not.

Despite this being seemingly, in part, a clerical error, Karam says that there is a racial component to his treatment.

"I felt sad and mistreated, let along the fact they claimed I had two kids and wrote my email address wrong," he tells PCGamesInsider.biz.

"After handing in the necessary documents and more, I also got refused for not including a non-mandatory element, my translated bank balance. I did hand in a statement by my employer, however, including a confirmation of my salary.

"A European will never have to go through this treatment, but for a refugee or citizen of a nation outside of the global power club it's a must. We didn’t choose to be born there, just like others who didn't get to choose their skin colour. To be honest at first I thought I won’t need one due to the fact that I already visited other countries like Norway and Switzerland. Not a single hick-up or problem there."

He continues: "They were assuming that I will overstay my visa and relocate to the UK. But I have everything I need in Austria. why would I want to relocate to the UK?"

Understandably, Karam doesn't hold particularly warm feelings towards the UK following this treatment.

"To be honest I don't feel like going there anymore," he admits.

"But the fact and the matter is if the British get to know the mistreatment we are facing they wouldn't like it too and would love to change for the better. In the end that is not what they are known for or wanting to be known for."

As said before, Path Out is Karam's debut project and details his experience escaping Syria back in 2014.

"The idea is to share an experience," he says.

"My journey was hard and I wish and hope no one will ever go through it in real life, but by god, I learned a lot from it. This makes it worth to share in my opinion. We wanted to show that these kind of games can be fun, but at the same time also address serious topics."

The game has - to date - been up for eight awards, which is clearly validating for Karam after living through such hardship.

"Oh let me tell you how does it feels [to be up for awards]," he says.

"After being told your whole life that you won't make it and achieve your dream to be part of the games industry, actually winning a prize and getting nominated to a big one in London felt like heaven to me. That moment felt more emotional than anything in my life I went down with tears of happiness that I finally made it to the industry and the game I worked on with our team got appreciated."

Though clearly distressed by his treatment by the UK authorities, Karam says that he is going to continue work on the second part of Path Out.

"There is a lot to do and we have just begun on that journey, we will be on our own way to show the world what this medium is capable of doing," he declares.

"Games can create rather immersive experiences, that bind you to the topic or story by the means of interaction. For me, video games made the most frustrating topics easy to learn; for example learning a new language. It simply made it fun to engage with the subject. Games can do that like no other medium and that is our ambition for the future."

Karam will be appearing alongside Vlambeer's Rami Ismail at The Big Indie Fest between July 5th and 8th  to discuss diversity and global travel difficulties

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Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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