The annual Game Developers Conference may be developing a bad reputation as some of its most prominent backers deepen their embrace of progressive politics and promote it as an event that supports their ideology.
This year, video game developers were encouraged to identify their gender pronouns and treated to a host of speeches about diversity and sexism in video games.
This perception may have caused prospective Dutch game developers to have an active disinterest in going, prompting a sponsorship program that funds their visits to end.
While the GDC is made up of hundreds of speeches about different legitimate topics on making games, the stories that get the most play — at least in the progressive gaming press — consist of the political talks with only a few dozen attendees. Tech websites like Engadget carried stories like “GDC opens its arms up to the trans community.” And the GDC Vault, which hosts some of the talks, features presentations like “Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia: Where Do Video Games Stand” and “Creating Safe Spaces at Game Events” ahead of more development-oriented topics.
This year, GDC hosted a talk called “End White Cis Gender Able Bodied Man as the Default.”
— Danshi (@dannschieh) June 12, 2017
Outsiders have the impression that all anyone talks about at GDC is politics.
In a series of tweets Monday, Dutch game developer and co-owner of indie games publisher Vlambeer, Rami Ismail, announced that the program to fund students’ visits to GDC has ended. It is because interest in event among game design students and prospective developers in the Netherlands’ flourishing video game development scene is almost nonexistent.
Rami Ismail, who has been a major proponent of social justice in video games, wrote on Twitter: “The Dutch program to fund students wanting to visit GDC (which Vlambeer also sponsored) has ended because there were not enough applicants.”
“If there’s more disappointing outcomes for this than ‘Dutch students didn’t care to write an essay for a shot to go to GDC’ I don’t know it,” he continued, linking to an article about the fund’s cancellation. “The fund was promoted via most/all major schools and universities, and via the well-circulated national industry magazine.”
The fund’s closure is an unfortunate outcome given the wealth of knowledge that students could have learned from veteran game developers at the event.
“I wish them the best of luck in the industry, then,” Ismail concluded. “Opportunities are rare enough that missing easy ones is not something you should do.”
Given Ismail’s vocal embrace of progressivism, and the high-profile nature of the many leftist lectures that take place at GDC, it’s no surprise that students do not believe that attending the event will help them make better games.