How Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban is affecting GDC and game developers abroad

4 min read

GDC affected by Muslim Ban 2

Last Friday US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that has had widespread ramifications for both legal citizens of the United States of America, and those potentially hoping to visit the country in the near future. The order bans entry to the United States for the next 90 days to persons from seven predominantly Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, among other things.

Movement to the United States by people with any sort of background or connection to these countries will now prove unpredictable and difficult, which has made this years GDC is far more complicated matter.

The annual conference for the world’s best and brightest video game professionals from around the globe is set to kick off in less than a month, and marks the only conference under the banner after GDC Europe was cancelled not too long ago. It’s arguably the one conference every game developer needs to attend, and attracts hopeful designers, artists and developers from all corners of the globe for a few days of collaboration, sharing and, most of all, the celebration of games that will shape the coming years.

Over the past couple of days, that has changed for the worse. While the majority of GDC attendees will find no resistance in attending the event, there are already a few pockets of developers expressing concern over making the trip or outright cancelling it. Rami Ismail, co-founder of Nuclear Throne developer Vlambeer, says there are already five developers he personally knows who will no longer make the GDC trip.

Shahid Kamal Ahmad, PlayStation’s former director for strategic content and now a developer in the UK, added by saying he would no longer attend GDC due to fears over the ban.

Lual Mayen, a South Sudanese game developer who I had the pleasure of meeting at A MAZE in Johannesburg last year, will also possibly not be able to reach GDC anymore. A little closer, local games developer and Wits Game Designer graduate (and friend of mine) Ahmed Elgoni will also have to give up on attending his first GDC, since he was born in Sudan.

These are just a few of the many cases GDC is now having to grapple with, with the conference itself make a short statement ahead of a longer one due this week. Right now, GDC is refunding attendees who will no longer be able to make the trip. It doesn’t make up for missing the conference itself (and the money spent on flights and accommodation), but it’s all the conference can do right now.

While protests continue on the ground in Washington, Seattle and more cities around the United States (and several outside of the country), some smaller initiatives by developers also managed to circulate some support over the weekend. The aforementioned Vlambeer started a 24-hour sale on Sunday, with all proceeds aimed towards a donation for the ACLU – the legal body at ground zero who won a stay that protected citizens who had already landed or were in transit when the executive ban was issued.

Playdots Inc, the company behind the incredibly popular mobile titles Dots, Two Dots and Dots & Co, rallied over the weekend to add in a splash page urging players to also donate to the ACLU during the initial hours of the ban. The game’s developers spent Saturday adding in and localising the donation link, with co-founder Paul Murphey saying that around 250 000 people had clicked through to the ACLU page as of yesterday evening.

Play Dots supports the ACLU

These are just some of the ways developers – both directly affected and not – are using their craft to rally behind the hundreds of thousands of citizens on the streets, at airports and in front of political houses in the United States, as the country (and collectively, the world) continues to reel after week one of Trump’s presidency.


Last Updated: January 30, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • And people ask me why I care about Trump and American politics…

    That guy needs to be removed asap, he’s dangerous and we aren’t immune

    • Original Heretic

      His rhetoric of “making America great again” may well just sink it further down the ladder.

      • The bad thing about USA going to shit is that we left with Russia being given freedom to go insane as well

        • HairyEwok

          Don’t forget China.

      • Sageville

        “When was America last great?”

        I love the replies to this question from the Trumpists…

    • Member Berry Bob

      Yeah, I think a straight up ban is a bit too far. I’m fine with tighter border control and more detailed background checks (for any country – required paperwork is required paperwork) but this is plain madness.

      • what’s madness is that the all the muslim terrorist attacks in the US have been perpetrated by people in countries that aren’t being banned… Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt are all not part of this ban but that’s where the 9/11 bombers, Boston bombers and San Fernando shooters came from.

        So it’s not only ridiculous and useless but it’s entirely illogical as well?

        The buffoon is only doing this to take the focus off the fact that he appointed Bannon onto the board of national security and who can now overrule the generals.. and he’s a apparently white supremacist … crazy town

        • Unavengedavo
          • yup, he’s so blatantly corrupt. What blows my mind is that his supporters thing he’s safe from corruption since he’s a business man and not a politician…

            so someone who is driven by money can’t be corrupted by money? WHAT MAD LOGIC IS THAT

          • Unavengedavo

            Those Oil lines he signed off on was the exact moment they should have realised that he isn’t in it to make “America Great Again”. He did it for future business deals.

          • HvR

            See this is the problem, idiot move by Trump countered even more idiotic conspiracy theory fake news by left media. Combustion engine of left vs right news agencies.

            Think less to do with his business more to do that both Saudi Arabia are alliance partners and together with with Egypt buys few hundred million to couple of billions dollars in US military hardware on a regular basis.

            Adding them to the list would have taking this from idiotic to the absolute ludicrious

          • and Afghanistan? Why didn’t that get added?

          • Original Heretic

            Trump probably reckons there are no people left there.

          • HvR

            Projected $15billion in military arms sales sponsored by NATO for US arms companies

            And also on of the US’s top non-NATO allies.

          • Hammersteyn

            That’s where they make heroin

          • MonsterCheddar


          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Saudis are crazy though… you don’t just decide to ban them, they’ll fly airplanes at your… oh….

        • HvR

          Bannon is as much a white supremacist as Jonah Peretti and Arianna Huffington are ultra-left wing conspirators wanting to institute a communist regime in the US

          • “I’m a Leninist,” Mr. Bannon was quoted as saying by a writer for The Daily Beast who met him at a party in 2014. He later said he did not recall the conversation. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too,” the site quoted him as saying. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

            How he now runs the intelligence community is a serious concern

          • HvR

            The Daily Beast, the wonderful honest news website, who has found guilty of plagiarism, outed closeted gay Olympic athletes and called every Sanders supporter a misogynist and is described by journalist ethics groups as “unethical, journalistic malpractice, trash”

            Bannon ran a conservative news agency, yes they posted articles that were absolute trash just like their political counterparts Buzzfeed Huffington Post but in no way do they get even close to being far right wing white supremacist.

            That is precisely why the world is stuck where is it, everybody is classed in extremes in the mainstream media depending on who their paymasters are. You are either a far right wing white supremacist fascist or a new world order communist welfare state conspirator. If you constantly look for extreme you are blind to the middle which is where the truth and lies and you get the balls up that was the 2015 US elections.

          • are you denying he said that quote? Doesn’t really matter who quoted him if he said it then he said it

        • konfab

          So what you are saying is that Trump should wait for a terrorist attack by a Syrian.

          Would he then be allowed to increase the screening procedures from Syria?

          • Purple_Dragon

            Current vetting process is arduous and takes up to 2 years for final approval.

      • Purple_Dragon

        What people seem to miss is that the current vetting process is ardous, usually takes up to 2 years before final approval.

    • Sageville

      This is always how it starts…

      Dictator incoming!

      • Original Heretic

        Just remove the “tator”.

    • Sageville
      • HairyEwok

        I’ll bet that Iran and Iraq wouldn’t be on the banned list if the US couldn’t manage to obtain the oil fields due to the “war on terror”.

      • Magoo


  • Original Heretic

    Makes one wonder if Trump is being influenced by anyone or anything.

    • MonsterCheddar

      Its the Republicans. Trump is just the face of a higher power.

      • Original Heretic

        US Presidents going all the way back to those succeeded Eisenhower have been influenced by the Bilderberg Group.
        Knowing how strong Hilary’s ties were with them, I had hopes that Trump might have been the candidate that could have broken the US free of them.
        But then he announced his group of advisors and that hope was blown out the water.

        Money is just too powerful in this world, sad to say.

        And the whole thing of Republicans vs Democrats? Former US Governor Jesse Ventura has stated that while those two groups are always fighting in public, behind closed doors they’re all friends.

        • MonsterCheddar

          There are a lot of things we are not privy to. The US is run by people in the shadows. And what you say is correct. Trump is just a puppet.

        • MonsterCheddar

          Jesse Ventura is an asshole BTW.

        • Magoo

          If someone offers you a coke, you say yes or no. If someone offers you a coke or a pepsi, you choose one.

    • Hammersteyn


  • Magoo


  • Steffmeister

    People only see what they want to see. Read up on what this ‘ban’ is about before jumping on the anti Trump bandwagon. Trump is simply trying to put measures in place to prevent what has happened in Europe. It’s called border control, and every country has the right to do so.

    • HvR

      As much as hate the media reporting and bandwagoning this was an idiotic move; if anything this makes the problem bigger, is anti constitutional and is unenforceable.

      This is like Obama EO’s on the 2A and will probably be overturned in the next week.

    • but he’s banning people from countries that aren’t the problem in Europe or elsewhere..

      IF he was worried about that he’s ban people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia..

      • Steffmeister

        The ‘ban’ is temporary, and makes exceptions for people of minority groups that are being persecuted for their religion. I think this is just until proper screening can be put in place to keep the real enemy (ISIS) out. But the Trump hating media has once again mislead the public and cause unnecessary mass hysteria and anti Trump protests.

        • Purple_Dragon

          The current vetting process is already sufficient. Takes up to 2 years for approval.

        • HvR

          “makes exceptions for people of minority groups that are being persecuted for their religion” and there is the balls up taking any legitimacy out of the order and making the ban unenforceable.

          Also completely screw over the Kurds, the only solid group in the ME region that properly opposes ISIS.

        • Minority religion = Christian… so he’s saying it doesn’t effect christians.

          And again, if it was to protect from terrorism then why not ban visitors from countries that have sent terrorists over?

          This is not mass hysteria, this is unconstitutional and just plain wrong

          • Magoo

            I see you saying this a lot, but he has reasoned that the ban was made considering US intelligence agencies’ findings. The findings are not a matter of public record but that doesn’t mean that the reason doesn’t exist. For one, the majority of terrorist owned territory in Afghanistan was taken from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by ISIL groups. Those groups may occupy Afghanistan but they have no Afghani citizenship. Also, Russia gets a lot of resources from Afghanistan, as does America. If America lets Russia have all the goodies then that will have other economical impacts. There are far too many things to consider to make such wild claims. It’s hard to say this politely but if you’ve been getting all your info from MSM then you probably don’t know the whole story.

            Please don’t ban me <3

          • So are you saying that the groups who are occupying Afghanistan has no chance of either A: buying an Afghani passport, or B: recruiting locals?

            If the ban was based on real facts then why did they not request the intelligence committee to review it? Why didn’t they take the legal advice offered by the DHS and why has it already been overturned by the legal system?

            If you’ve got proof showing the other side then by all means show it.. the side against the ban has tons of proof while Trump supporters just believe in Trump.. which is far more terrifying than anything else

          • Magoo

            Fair enough. In this piece on Fox, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway alleges that the Obama administration constructed the list in 2015. So, it is technically correct that the Trumpets did not consult the proper organizations before signing away, but that’s not the full story.

            Buying passports for other countries was always going to be a thing. Afghanistan & etc is unfortunate to be the most likely source but at least this way it is narrowed down to “suspect” countries for importing “terrorists.” If they had put any more countries on the list then I can almost guarantee someone would have called them out for making their own list up out of thin air.

          • The Obama administration made the list.. but Kellyanne is telling some porkies

            The list is of the countries that the US administration deemed unsafe to visit… not receive people from 🙂

          • Magoo

            Here is the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2015, straight from the horses mouth

            Kyle spoke about it a while ago, when a team member could not make a tournament in USA because of the issues they were having with their VISA. Actually, in many ways the 90-day ban isn’t so different from the waiting periods enforced prior. Except that it may be prolonged.

            Just to clarify I am not really a fan of any congress in particular. I just think people need to spend more time evaluating and far-side journalists need to spend less time exaggerating.

          • From what I can read there the bill is more about the Visa Waiver Programme for risky countries.. not actually banning people from those countries just saying they will have to go to an interview…

            Or am I missing something here?

          • Magoo

            That’s what I understand too. But there is a reason that those 7 countries are on a list for terrorism related activities. I argue that there is far less proof that the list was thumb-sucked or created considering personal business interests. Maybe so for a larger economy of America but not intentionally for the Trump admin, and in no other way than to fight terrorism. A decision made with far more confidence in proof and fact than in emotion and opinion. Whether it works or not.

            And I am arguing that against the narrative that you find at the top of Google’s “Trump” results. You of all people know that SEO is a tool, and for conglomerates that are being attacked it is also a weapon.

          • BakedBagel

            Yet the word “Ban” is being thrown around like im on

          • Magoo

            I must agree though. The pro-trump bandwagon is filled to the brim with conformation bias and it’s scary. It’s the same for every president but this one is a wild card.

    • Unavengedavo

      Like Gavin said, why exclude Majority-Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Egypt? Especially since that’s where the 9/11 bombers, Boston bombers and San Fernando shooters came from.

      • Skittle

        One reason could be that ISIS is not active in those countries.

        “But ISIS is not the only terrorist group”
        – No they are not but they are the most active and have claimed responsibility for the majority of attacks on western soil.

        • But they are not a threat to the US at this time…
          I would also bet my bottom dollar that ISIS has cells in Pakistan and Afghanistan,

          • MonsterCheddar

            They are everywhere. Europe, US, Africa, everywhere.

        • HairyEwok

          ISIS is worldwide aren’t they?

    • Purple_Dragon

      Trumpite alert

    • Hammersteyn

      Except the people involved in the Chicago shootings came from Pakistan, a country not blocked. And the people responsible for 9/11 came from Egypt, UAE, Afghanistan and another country(can’t remember which) that’s also not on his blocked list

  • Hammersteyn

    Trump, LOL!

    • Magoo

      What have you done ALESSANDRO!?

  • MonsterCheddar

    The circus is starting.

  • MonsterCheddar

    The problem is people always argue about US politics, (like I read in the comments below), but no one has the full picture and no one ever will. The media controls the nonsense they get fed. A lot of dodgy shit gets covered up. That is why I don’t argue about this type of kak. The real US politics are behind closed doors by high powered people we don’t even know about.

    • The conspiracy theory that families run the worlds governments is just a conspiracy put out there to stop people investigating politicians..


    • Steffmeister

      Those who control the information people get, can control the people. The fact that the media is so anti Trump says a lot. They don’t have a puppet in the white house anymore.

      • Purple_Dragon

        Maybe it’s just because Trump is a cunt.

  • I believe the high court has blocked this already?

  • For the Emperor!

    Conspiracy theory: Trump is delivering on his outlandish campaign promises because he KNOWS they will be stopped by the courts or Congress (which is also why he made them in the first place). Then he can tell his voters “hey I tried, the courts/Congress stopped me” and continues about his business. Perhaps that is more wishful thinking than anything else though…

  • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

    Donald Trump is turning out to be a Level 99 MasterTroll. I wonder if he’s dual-wielding or just noob tubing life….

  • HairyEwok

    Wonder how hard the founding fathers of US is face palming themselves right now.

  • Magoo


  • BakedBagel

    A Muslim ban?

    Lmao. Can you really equate what this is to a “MuslimBan” Lmfao

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