Games For Change: Meet DOWiNO Co-Founder Nordine Ghachi

Nov 06, 2019 By Crissy Campbell

© Octokunst (Xavier Tschudi)

In addition to our academic partnerships, both with our partner schools and educational institutions worldwide, the Centre for Digital Media also has strong partnerships with industry.

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting Nordine Ghachi, the creative director and co-founder of DOWiNO - a serious games company from Lyon, France. Nordine was visiting to learn more about the CDM, what we do here and how he can collaborate with us. 

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Nordine had been working for about 10 years in a company producing mainly advertising games, animation movies and websites.

When the company ran out of business, Nordine wanted to have more meaningful and rewarding work. He used his unemployment to his advantage and decided to create his own game company with two close friends: Pierre-Alain Gagne and Jérôme Cattenot. DOWiNO, games for change, was born.

But why use games for change? For Nordine, it is simple: Because games arouse emotions and aroused emotions lead to change.

The company’s first big hit was in 2015 and called A Blind Legend. Developed with France Culture, a French public radio channel, it is an action/adventure game without images to raise awareness about blindness. A game for both blind and sighted gamers, it has had +1 million downloads in 189 countries.

The company continues to make games for good, including GlucoZor, a game to help diabetic children better manage their disease. And Smokitten, a game to help users stop smoking.

 

Nordine visited the CDM last week to learn more about the MDM program and explore partnerships with the school and DOWiNO. I sat down to talk to him about what he’s excited about in digital media and games today.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I started making my own video games when I was a kid.

I studied foreign languages and multi-media and then in 2004 I had my first job developing websites for a company’s games. The company started to get requests from clients to make websites for their games so I started making those websites as well and I got really busy because I was also doing game design and coding.

Eventually, I started to hire people to work with me in the web department and I was able to focus more on game design for the company.

Today at DOWiNO I manage and train staff, write the proposals, drive brainstorming sessions and develop the concepts that we deliver to clients. I also lead the company’s R&D.

2. Why did you choose to have your company focus on serious games?

Because as a kid I played a lot of games but it was only for fun, it was not really useful (and it was OK at that time). But growing up, I wanted to make more concrete games and develop really useful products, with strong social purposes.

Plus I am a very curious person and like to learn. I love the fact that in serious games you have to learn a lot of different jobs. One day I’m dealing with a rare neurological disease, another day I’m working on social issues and the next day I’m working on environmental and climate problems.

It’s really interesting.

3. Tell us about why you are here at the CDM.

I was at the Enterprising Culture conference last year in Vancouver and met Larry and Patrick and they asked me to come back to Vancouver this year and visit the CDM because I didn’t make it last year.

It’s been really, really interesting being here because I think your students are brilliant. In two days I’ve seen a lot of amazing things. The students are communicating really well, they are really creative, they can solve a lot of problems. They are all ready to work in the industry.

So the program is interesting to me. For example, we (at DOWiNO) are trying to do interesting things but we are really small. We have a small budget and not enough time to work on ambitious R & D. One day we may be able to work with the CDM and have MDM students make a prototype for us.

4. What are you most excited about in digital media today?

VR is huge. So is AR and Mixed Reality. I think that there is lots to do in these fields and not just in games but they can also be used to train, to educate, and even to cure.

They use VR to train soldiers, to educate surgeons and to help cure phobias. For example, if you are afraid of heights, you can cure vertigo with VR.

testing out VR disability headset

Associate Director Larry Bafia testing out Nordine’s VR headset for a secret project focused on disability.