Home   >   News

Games industry stands up to Donald Trump’s travel ban on select foreign nationals

Games and tech sectors push back against executive order
Games industry stands up to Donald Trump’s travel ban on select foreign nationals
Stay Informed
Get Industry News In Your Inbox…
Sign Up Today

A host of games and tech industry professionals are pushing against US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning nationals from select countries.

The order, the full text of which can be found here, prevents all people who come from Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the US. These places had previously been identified as “countries of concern”.

At present, the ban is cited to last for 90 days and affects immigrant and non-immigrant entry.

As the report notes, the order also bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, while refugees from anywhere else in the world are barred from entering the US for four months.

It's unclear whether other countries may be added down the line, but this remains a possibility.

Global protests

The executive order has sparked a string of protests across the US and other countries around the world.

In the UK, more than 1.3 million people at the time of writing have signed a petition calling on the Government to prevent Trump from making a State Visit to the UK – which has so far been rejected by the Government.

The executive order has caused some confusion over exactly who is and isn’t allowed in the US, sparking condemnation from the tech and games industries, many companies in which employ nationals from affected countries.

Organisers of the Game Developers Conference have criticised the ban, and has said it will refund any attendees affected. The popular conference takes place on February 27th to March 3rd 2017.

Indie developer Shahid Ahmad, who previously worked as Director of Strategic Content at Sony, has hit out at the ban in a series of tweets. He stated that given the current confusion, he will not be attending GDC 2017.

A number of other devs have also hit out at the ban, including The Outsiders Chief Creative Officer David Goldfarb.

Some developers meanwhile are donating revenues from their games to the America Civil Liberties Union, which is opposing the ban.

Developer Playdots has posted a message into its mobile games Two Dots and Dots & Co to users upon launch to ask them to support the ACLU.

The message reads:

“As an American company, we value the diversity of our team and players. We believe America should be a welcoming place, particularly for those most in need, whatever they come from and whatever their religion.

“Please join us in standing up for civil rights.”

According to Kotaku, as of the morning of January 29th, the developer said around 250,000 people had clicked through to the ACLU’s site.

Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail has also pledged to donate revenues to the ACLU.

Concerned employees

Super Evil Megacorp CEO Kristian Segerstrale meanwhile posted an email to all the studio’s staff and onto the website Medium.

“This is pretty serious. For example, IraqiZorro of Gankstars is no longer allowed to travel to the US to play [at Vainglory championships],” he said.

He added: “Whatever your political affiliation or beliefs, discrimination or persecution of individuals on the basis of religion, ethnicity, national origin or anything else for that matter is simply not OK anywhere, ever. Ping me if you’re concerned over your own status or that of your family. We have your back. Our company immigration lawyer is also available for anyone who wants to talk.”

As reported by Venturebeat, Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau emailed employees that the company is “firmly opposed to these actions”, referring to the executive order.

“Zynga has always been – and will always be – an organization that values diversity and equality,” said Gibeau.

“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.”

Multi-national opposition

Big multi-nationals such as Apple and Google have also released statements to staff about the order.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said “it is not a policy we support” and noted that there were Apple employees directly affected by the ban.

He added the company had reached out to the White House to explain the negative impact the decision had had on co-workers and the company as a whole.

“As I've said many times, diversity makes our team stronger,” said Cook.

“And if there's one thing I know about the people at Apple, it's the depth of our empathy and support for one another. It's as important now as it's ever been, and it will not weaken one bit. I know I can count on all of you to make sure everyone at Apple feels welcome, respected and valued.”

For its part, Google has set up a $4 million crisis fund to help employees and others affected by the policy.

This will see Google pledging $2 million of its own money and $2 million in employee donations to four bodies: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHR).

"We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US," read a statement from Google to USA Today, as reported by The Independent.

"We'll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere."

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the US games industry, urged the White House to “exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign work programes”.

It stated that the US games industry “thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world” and that companies in the sector “rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike”.