Travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries are going to have a more difficult time getting into the United States for at least the next several months due to an executive order from President Donald Trump. While a federal judge put a stay barring certain aspects of that rule due to its potential unlawfulness, many game developers from those countries are canceling their plans to travel to the Game Developers Conference industry event in San Francisco later this month.
In response, thriving indie publisher Devolver Digital announced it is creating the “Devolver Underground.”
The company, responsible for indie hits like Downwell and The Talos Principle, said it wants to help bring games to GDC even if the creators themselves fear they cannot get through customs. Devolver took to social media earlier today to reveal that it is accepting submissions from developers who can’t attend GDC because of Trump’s ban. The publisher plans to set up these games at its location near the Moscone Center, where the bulk of GDC takes place. This will put the games in front of thousands of industry insiders.
If you were going to bring a game to GDC but changed your plans after the ban, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your demo for consideration.
Exposure at GDC, which is widely considered one of the most important gatherings of gaming professionals, can potentially lead to publishing deals, connections with platform holders like Microsoft, Sony, and Steam, or financial support.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) February 2, 2017
In a statement, Devolver cofounder Mike Wilson explained why the company is offering to help.
“One of my favorite things about games is that they are truly global in nature, transcending borders and cultural differences more seamlessly than other art forms,” he said. “And working with different people from all over the world with wildly varying backgrounds has been a huge part of Devolver’s success and of our personal enjoyment of what we do. 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.”
In the gaming industry, Devolver isn’t alone in taking a stand against Trump’s refusal to admit refugees, citizens of American ally Iraq, and other foreign nations into the country. Immediately after the ban, GDC itself promised to refund anyone canceling their travel plans and Nuclear Throne developer Vlambeer revealed it would give all of its revenues for 24 hours to the American Civil Liberties Union, the group that fought for the stay against Trump’s ban.
Even blockbuster developer Insomniac Games, the studio that made Sunset Overdrive and Ratchet & Clank and an emerging power in virtual reality, published a message where founder Ted Price explicitly said his company opposes the ban.
As people in the United States and around the world see how this ban plays out and hurts people, it’s likely we’ll continue to see the gaming industry — which relies heavily on a global talent pool — continue to speak out. For now, however, affected developers should get in touch with Devolver.