“I would like to see more and more people playing the games that I have developed. Another thing is, I’m a writer so I would like to someday publish my poems and short stories. Maybe one day I can write a novel and have it published.”
Hi, could you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Nouf Alattar. I love talking to people and bringing them together, whether through casual conversation or, in recent times, through targeted phone applications that people in the Middle East can relate to.
Tell us about your education.
I have a diploma in Business Management from the Australian college of Kuwait and I’m currently attending Park University to pursue a degree in Computer Information Systems.
What is it exactly that you do?
Right now I run my own company called Darkfield Matrix where we currently develop app games. I’m the chairwoman in the company and I have a small team that I work closely with to bring my ideas from a set of drawings, flowcharts and initial prototypes to life and reality where you see them on your phone.
What got you interested in what you’re doing?
For many years I wasn’t interested in technology, I didn’t even care what phone I had. Then I married my husband who’s very much into technology and introduced me to this world. He asked me if I’d like to know more and I said yes. I started reading about coding and I told him that was the field I wanted to learn more about. I wanted to learn how to develop apps so he bought me two books, one about C# and another one about Unity. The rest, we can say, is history.
What makes you unique or special in what you are doing?
We develop games that are catered to the Middle East, more so the 22 Arab states. They are games where people from here can feel it can represent them. In some of the games they will see familiar landmarks that are very close to home.
Tell us your journey to where you have reached today. How was the initial struggle?
Studying a field that I had very little background knowledge on presented a significant learning curve. It was like learning a whole new language, which it is! I started to learn that there was more to the IT and computer world than what I was taught back in high school. It was like an endless well of knowledge and adventure I could tap into. I studied for two years straight before I even had the courage to start developing my first app game. After knowing the basics and a bit more I had the courage to make my ideas a reality. But wait, I had a road block! Yes, I’m able to develop apps, but for the life of me I can’t draw! That led me out on a hunt to find two people, one that had a passion for art and one that could also program and troubleshoot across both major platforms. These people had to share my same drive and desire to complete projects. It took me several months to find the right fit. These people had to be able to take my proof of concept and mock drawings and bring my vision to life.
How has been the help of your family in what you are doing? Were they supportive since the beginning?
At very beginning the only person who knew what I was doing was my husband. I had my family and friends keep asking me why I wasn’t able to hang out. My answer was always ‘Oh sorry, I’m busy.’ My husband has always been supportive of anything I wanted to do. Then when we entered the stage of beta testing the games I reached out to those closest to me and I told them about the games. I got a lot of feedback which was very helpful and which to me, was the support I needed.
Who are your top 3 heroes and why?
I really don’t have heroes, but I do have people I look up to for many different reasons. I get to travel a lot and I get to meet so many interesting people who share their life stories with me that inspire me daily. If you want me to choose people, here we go in no specific order: Elizabeth Taylor. To me she’s one of the best looking women out there and held herself with grace and did whatever she wanted to do without any care what others thought of her and her life choices. Secondly, Queen Catherine the Great of Russia who came into power in a world dominated by men. Despite the rumors that were spread about her, she was able to modernize Russia and achieve more than any man before her. Queen Elizabeth I ruled England and at the time, became the longest and strongest reigning monarch throughout history. The reason I’d classify these women as my heroes is because they were all strong females who weren’t afraid to show it and I aspire to be like that.
What are some of the challenges you are facing in your field and how are you overcoming them?
Some of the challenges I face are constant changes and updates in IT along with trends changing often. All of these, in my opinion, have a means to be overcome. For example with the changes in IT, I do my best to stay on top of new features coming out in Unity and other tools used to monetize and enhance the games by reading constantly. As trends change I have to adapt to them and find a way to incorporate them into the games, or produce a new game to stay on top of these and capture a newer audience and retain the one I already have.
What advice or mentorship made a difference in your career?
I was told by someone, ‘No idea is dumb or wrong’. Now I truly believe that.
How would your friends describe you?
Hyper! I’m that crazy friend that has lots of energy most of the time. Other than that I have no idea what they think of me!
What are some of your hobbies?
As a woman who’s constantly busy with computers you’d think it’s my life, but no, you are wrong! I love to cook (I cook very well and many different cuisines), I’m a huge makeup addict (I think my friends would describe me as such), I collect book marks (I just love them) and I enjoy watching documentaries specially about WW1 and WW2. Also, I love to travel to different places and meet new people.
What are some of your top achievements?
Can I say marrying the man I love?!
On a different note, I’d say my top achievement is that I learned it’s okay to be myself and I don’t have to apologize for who I am. I’m finally comfortable with myself.
What are your plans or goals for the future?
I would like to continue releasing games that people enjoy and revolve around the Middle East in a very personalized and targeted manner. I have had the privilege of seeing people I don’t know play them when I am out in public and it makes me happy to see them enjoying something I built. Additionally, one of my goals is to expand Darkfield Martix to hire more women in this field as there are few of us in the Middle East.
How does it feel to have been chosen for this award?
I’m not going to lie, when I applied I was nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen. When I received the email that I was one of the few selected, I screamed with excitement and ran to the phone to call my mum (right after I forwarded the email to my husband). It’s such an honor.
Your message for other young and talented people out there.
Take a risk and give your idea a try. While we are young we have many opportunities to start over and simply try again or try another idea.
Your favourite quote.
“Progress is progress no matter how small.” And also, “There is no right path to success.”