Games & Sport

In response to visa woes, indie game devs create their own virtual gaming expo

Enlarge (credit: GameDev.World)

In recent years, more stories have bubbled up around tech conferences whose developers have faced a specific kind of hardship: visa troubles and other international-law woes. Thursday’s announcement of GameDev.World, a virtual conference scheduled for June 21-23, 2019, revolves largely around finding an answer to this and other accessibility issues for game makers around the world.

Vlambeer co-founder and development toolkit creator Rami Ismail confirmed that GD.W, a live-streamed video event full of live-translated speeches and Q&As, picked up significant steam after he struggled to organize a single conference panel last year. It wasn’t because his Game Developers Conference panel members canceled or flaked. It’s because five of his hopeful attendees had their visas to visit the United States canceled with barely a month’s notice—in one case, a week’s notice.

Ismail’s Thursday announcement included confirmation that this moment crystallized an effort he’d begun years earlier. Having attended conferences around the world since launching popular games like Nuclear Throne and Ridiculous Fishing, Ismail said he saw missing voices at major gaming events due to visas, travel costs, or in some cases, foreign speakers not being as welcome due to thickly accented English. “The language of games is supposed to be universal, but for most people around the world, the world itself is not accessible,” Ismail said at the aforementioned 2018 GDC panel.

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