Trump’s Travel Ban Is Stranding Game Developers, Too

03 Feb 2017
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By Julie Muncy for WIRED.

Each year, the Game Developers Conference offers videogame creators from around the world the opportunity to show off their wares to hordes of eager fans. This time around, developers who can’t make it to San Francisco for the confab because of President Trump’s travel ban won’t get that chance. Not in person, at least. To help them out, videogame publisher Devolver Digital is opening up their display space at GDC to show off the work of those whose trip to GDC was derailed by Trump’s executive order.

Typically, Devolver Digital runs a space adjacent to the event to showcase their own games. But at this year’s GDC, the company is giving over part of its zone to developers from one of the seven majority-Muslim counties affected by the ban who are unable to attend. Devolver is accepting submissions digitally and will show the games during the event on series of PCs and HTC Vive VR sets the company is setting aside for them.

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The president’s ban is already playing havoc on the tech sector, which has always relied on immigrant talent. This includes the videogame industry, and as Ars Technica reports, the ban has directly affected the short-term travel plans of a number of developers, some of whom have had to cancel trips to attend GDC at the end of this month.

“One of my favorite things about games is that they are truly global in nature,” Mike Wilson, Devolver’s co-founder, said in a statement. “We are happy to have the opportunity to help create a bridge in some small way for some of the talented developers who will unfortunately be unable to attend this year’s GDC.”

Devolver is just the latest videogame company to respond to Trump’s immigration order. Earlier this week, Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games posted a videocondemning the move, and Playdots, the outfit behind mobile games Dots & Co and Two Dots, put a call-to-action in those games encouraging people to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union. GDC’s organizers have also spoken out against the ban, directly condemning the order and promising refunds to any attendees affected.

Devolver will be accepting submissions from affected developers until February 20; GDC kicks off February 27.

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