The games industry speaks out against an executive order signed by President Trump that bans travel from several countries with Muslim majority populations. The order bans immigration of citizens of Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to the United States for 90 days, refugees from these countries are banned for 120 days and Syrian refugees are banned from the U.S indefinitely.
The discriminatory travel ban and the games industry voicing its disgust against the executive order comes not long after Games for Change launched the Migration Integration project, aiming to promote games that foster positive attitudes about immigrants and refugees.
Games Industry Responds to Trump Travel Ban (#MuslimBan)
If you voted for trump or support his facist regime please don’t play our game.. Just go fuck off! 🙂
— 2064: PS4/PC OUT NOW (@ROM2064) January 29, 2017
One of the loudset opponents to President Trump’s travel ban – which has also been referred to as the #MuslimBan on social media – is MidBoss, the developer of inclusive cyberpunk adventure Read Only Memories. A tweet from the official Read Only Memories Twitter account encouraged Trump voters and supporters of Trump’s “facist regime [sic]” not to play the game, also telling them to “f–k off.”
Other game developers voiced their opposition to the travel ban, also attempting to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has provided legal aid to those from the eight countries being detained at U.S airports. (Via The Hill) The ACLU also successfully gotten a stay on the travel ban regarding the removal of people who had already gotten refugee applications approved or were currently travelling to the United States with valid visas.
Cardboard Computer, the developer behind adventure game Kentucky Route Zero made the game 50% off on itch.io in response to the ban with all sales going to the ACLU (until February 5), having now raised over $8,000. Vlambeer, the developer behind Nuclear Throne, Ridiculous Fishing and more, also donated all revenues from its games and sales from its PAX South merch table made over a 24 hour period to the ACLU (this 24 hour period has now ended).
— Paul Murphy (@paulbz) January 29, 2017
Playdots, which developed popular mobile titles Dots, Two Dots and Dots & Co. also updated its games with a message saying that it values “the diversity of our team and players” and that America should be a “welcoming place” for those in need “wherever they come from and whatever their religion.”
It encourages its players (of which there are around 3-4 million) to “join us in standing up for civil rights” and includes a link to donate to the ACLU – which over 500,000 have clicked, according to Playdots CEO Paul Murphy. It’s unclear exactly how many people have donated because of Playdots, but the ACLU says that it raised $24 million over the weekend (via The New York Times.)
Bethesda, which develops and publishes games like Dishonored 2 and Fallout 4 also issued a statement (via Mashable) saying that “We are a global company with employees of every race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. As such, we will always support diversity and acceptance over division and exclusion.”
Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association (the ESA, which organises annual industry event E3) urged the White House to “exercise caution,” recognising national security and the protection of United States citizens as “critical goals.” But it notes that “our companies rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike” and that the nation should “support their participation in the American economy.”
GDC is a global community – we’re horrified by the #MuslimBan. Of course we’ll refund affected attendees, and keep fighting for inclusivity.
— Official_GDC (@Official_GDC) January 29, 2017
Another industry body speaking out is the Game Developer’s Conference which tweeted that it is “horrified” by the #MuslimBan and will “keep fighting for inclusivity.” The International Game Developers Association holds its annual meeting at GDC, with the next one taking place between February 27 – March 3, and says that just two of its 8,000 members are affected by the ban.
But the organisation’s executive director, Kate Edwards, tells Polygon that “the issue isn’t necessarily the affect on these specific countries but on the general spread of xenophobia in the U.S. government.” Edwards also said that the ban would “certainly affect the U.S.’s ability to hire talent and remain globally competitive.”
All of this loud opposition to the ban – including global protests against it – appear to have been somewhat successful. The Trump administration has already backtracked and stated, amidst confusion, that green card holders and permanent residents of the United States will not be banned if they pass several security checks (via Vox.) However, the travel ban as a whole is discriminatory and few will be satisfied until the executive order is repealed as a whole.
As such, people should not expect the games industry and activists in general to back down any time soon. In fact, with rumors suggesting that an anti-LGBT executive order could be signed by President Trump by the end of the week (via The Advocate), it’s likely that the even more vocal political opposition from the games industry is right around the corner.