The Entertainment Software Association, the game industry’s top trade group in the United States, issued a statement asking the White House to use caution in the implementation of its travel ban on visitors from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Earlier this weekend, game developers from around the world issued statements and tweets criticizing President Donald Trump’s order banning refugees and barring citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Trump also banned foreigners with U.S. permanent resident green cards\ from entering the country without vetting, and he permanently banned refugees from Syria.
That prompted protests across the U.S. at American airports. Google cofounder Sergey Brin, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and a number of other leaders showed up at San Francisco International Airport, protesting at the places where the bans are being enforced. And game developers joined the protests as well.
“The Entertainment Software Association urges the White House to exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs,” the ESA said in a statement. “As a leading force in technology and exporter of entertainment, the U.S. video game industry thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world. While recognizing that enhancing national security and protecting our country’s citizens are critical goals, our companies rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike. Our nation’s actions and words should support their participation in the American economy.”
On Saturday night, a federal judge blocked part of Trump’s executive order, ordering that refugees and others trapped at airports across the U.S. should not be sent back to their home countries.
Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, sent this message to employees:
Many of you have likely been following the recent news on the U.S. Presidential executive order on immigration, and the global reaction that has followed. Our management team has also been closely monitoring this situation as it continues to unfold in real time. As a foreign national who has spent my career working all around the world, and am now proud to be living here in America with my family, I wanted to share some perspective.
We reject actions that diminish our principles of diversity and inclusion that are central to our company. Immigration has shaped the organization we are today, and, for many of us, it is a central part of our own lives or those of our families and friends. The value of teamwork underlies everything we do here – it shapes who we are and how we operate. So now, more than ever, as One Team we are here to support our people. Specifically:
- We are privileged to have a large number of foreign national employees here at EA. We are working to provide any and all assistance to those few who could potentially be impacted by the immigration changes in the U.S.
- We are here for all of you. If anyone is concerned about the Executive Order affecting you or your family, please reach out to your HR partner and/or manager immediately.
- Through our Legal partners and industry association, we will continue to be very engaged on further potential policy changes, immigration or otherwise, that could impact our global team.
Our open, inclusive, and multicultural company reflects our ideals in every way. The same can be said for our amazing games that connect our players all around the world. The circumstances we face today will not diminish the strength of our values or our team.
Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), said in a statement:
“Since the organization was incorporated in the U.S., the IGDA serves as the peer advisory organization to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), meaning that when a U.S.-based company is seeking to hire external skills to work in the US, the IGDA provides an advisory opinion on the person’s qualifications in game development and encourages their employment in the U.S. Since becoming the Executive Director in late 2012, I have signed over 250 such letters for individuals from all over the world, including from what are identified as ‘Muslim nations.’ We embrace the fact that the passion and skill for game development knows no boundaries — political, geographic, cultural, or demographic. Thus to restrict immigration on the basis of an individual’s state of origin represents an ignorant knee-jerk that assumes only the worst and wrongly stereotypes the people of an entire culture. We stand in absolute opposition to any policy in any government that would seek to unduly restrict an individual’s ability to pursue their creative passion and chosen career path in game development.”
Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga, sent this email off to employees:
I’ve heard from many of you that you’re concerned about what you’re reading and hearing related to the President of the United States’ Executive Order restricting immigration and travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
I want to be clear that as a company we are firmly opposed to these actions. Zynga has always been – and will always be – an organization that values diversity and equality. We have a culture of inclusion and respect. No matter what your political affiliation is, this basic foundation of who we are and what we value should always unite us.
Our number one priority is to ensure the safety and civil liberties of our global employees, and I’ve been working closely with James and the People Ops, Legal and Security teams to provide support for individuals who are directly impacted. We are continuing to actively monitor further developments regarding the Order and how it is being applied so we can provide as many resources as we can to affected employees.
We’re a stronger organization because we have a worldwide community of employees from different backgrounds and experiences. We will continue to stay true to our commitment to all of our global teams to provide you with a workplace based on tolerance, support and compassion.
As always, if you have any questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or James and the People Ops team.
And the Game Developers Conference (GDC) tweeted from its official Twitter account:
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