Game Cooks, a PC, Mobile, and VR games development studio was founded in 2011 by two passionate gamers. Today, with over 30 employees, the company is a touchstone for video gaming in the Middle East.
Lebnan Nader, CEO, Game Cooks talks about their brainchild and their recent win at the “VR and Beyond” challenge in partnership with Burj Khalifa and HTC Vive Middle East.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you went about establishing Game Cooks.
Gaming has always been a passion that I shared with my brother, Arz Nader. I was a big fan of video games since I was a kid. Back in 2011, my brother Arz and I decided to create a game. When we saw the potential, and we agreed to drop everything and only focus on creating video games.
What is Game Cooks all about? And who are the people on your team?
Game Cooks is a mix of people that are passionate, creative, innovative and easy going. A team that sees life in a similar way, and is determined to create very well polished video games to entertain as many people as possible.
Tell us a little about the ‘VR & Beyond’ Challenge and Game Cook’s journey in the competition.
‘VR and Beyond’ challenge was an exciting competition participants were required to imagine a VR experience that would take the user through Burj Khalifa.
We participated in the competition because it was natural for us to do. We know the Burj very well; we know VR very well. The idea came to us instantly, since the falcon is the emblem of the UAE.
We created a journey that takes the player from a helicopter to the top of Burj Khalifa via a zipline. We then “gamified” it to imitate the flight of a falcon throughout Burj Khalifa in a free diving/flying experience.
The journey [VR & Beyond Challenge] was fun. It resulted in many sleepless nights and overnights, a lot of testing, trial and error, until finally we came up with the best story board and execution.
We worked a lot on a setup that can simulate the wind when flying, the position of the player, and other logistics. I remember when we pitched the experience to the jury, I was simulating the flight with my hands (moving my hands up and down) and they laughed.
We were confident that we had a very good prototype, but the other 114 participants were very good as well. They came from different parts of the world, and some of them had very distinguished clients on their portfolio.
Even though we knew our prototype would stand out from the crowd, we never expected to reach number one.
What has been your biggest learning experience till date?
When you think your product is ready, it probably still needs two weeks of overnights! Testing and testing again was one of the biggest things we learned.
In what industries across MENA do you see VR having the most impact?
I think VR will shine in real estate, medicine, education, and tourism experiences; in addition to gaming. This does not only apply to the MENA region, but also to the world.
What’s one myth about VR you’d like to bust?
It is not scary, it is not weird, and it is not expensive. Just motivate yourself to put on the mask and give it a try. VR takes you to a different world, it immerses you in a perfect way to a point where you are not sure in which reality you are!
Sushmita, Assistant Editor – BusinessLiveME, enjoys writing about a variety of topics, including but not limited to, energy, video games, infrastructure, cyber security, feminism and gender, and popular culture. Apart from her content-related duties, Sushmita is adept at making to-do lists.