‘The same old shit is still happening’
[Update: A GDC spokesperson reached out to Eurogamer with a statement regarding the abuse reports of the past few days.
“We are very upset to hear that some people, especially women, reported concerning experiences during the GDC week at off-site events, including assault and drink spiking. This is outrageous and unacceptable; everyone has a right to feel safe. We severely condemn any such behavior and support the victims; we encourage reporting to the police and hope the perpetrators will be found.
“At the GDC event, we take everyone’s safety very seriously, we do our best to provide a secure environment on-site, we enforce a strict code of conduct and make sure that the GDC team is available to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, to provide escorts, or to otherwise assist those experiencing unacceptable behavior to feel safe for the duration of the conference.”
Last week saw the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) take place in San Francisco — Unfortunately, in the closing days of the event, multiple attendees came forward reporting incidents of abuse, assault, harassment, and drink-spiking that took place either during, or at events related to, the week’s conference.
“Women at GDC this year have been belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men,” reported game developer Leena van Deventer on Twitter. “Two women were even lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a ‘pitch’, where he then assaulted them.”
“It’s gutting to thud back to earth when hearing these things. They shouldn’t happen. This year we shared their photos in group chats, though. And we strategised redress. And we reached out to the women to provide care. We’re better at being kind than you are at being a deadshit.”
“Get the hell out of our industry.”
Women at GDC this year have been belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men.
Two women were even lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a “pitch”, where he then assaulted them.
— Leena 🌵 (@LeenaVanD) March 24, 2023
Van Deventer’s comments came the same day that Stride PR Vice-President Guy Blomberg confirmed that they had received multiple reports of serial drink-spiking that took place at a karaoke night held in relation to the conference. Blomberg says “multiple folks” had their drinks tampered with at the event.
“Thankfully they had friends who looked after them and they’re ok, all things considered,” wrote Blomberg on Twitter. “I’m so very sorry they had to go through such a horrifying experience, it’s absolutely not their fault, and we’re already in the process of tracking down the fucking scumbag who did this.”
“I’m furious this not only happened, but that it tends to happen so frequently that it’s become almost commonplace. It’s NOT fucking ok or acceptable. We are doing everything we can to work with the venue, look through security footage, and reach out to various people. ”
We've been informed of multiple folks that were roofied last Thursday night in SF, most probably at the karaoke event we hosted.
Thankfully they had friends who looked after them and they're ok all things considered.
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— Guy 'Yug' Blomberg (@YugSTAR) March 25, 2023
In addition to the incidents noted above, other attendees reported a trend in typically misogynistic behavior — including comments on appearance, inappropriate touching, or passive-aggressive prodding and questioning over the validity of their roles within the industry. (Links to these reports not supplied to protect accusers).
“This is where games has yet to find the maturity of measures needed to protect our own,” summarised one attendee. “This isn’t a one-off. This is continuous, growing and being allowed to do so […] As a Director of a AAA Game Studio, I do not feel safe in attending. I want to feel safe. What do you need? Who do you want consultancy from? Let’s not be humble anymore.”
“People are in danger and that fucks me right off.”
The Games and Online Harassment Hotline issued a statement in response to the reports.
“Every year, there are stories about groping, drugging, harassment, and even more stories of countless attempts to create opportunities for assault at games industry events like [GDC 2023], begins the statement. “It’s heartbreaking and infuriating that this feels so normalized. […] It wasn’t okay; it was never okay. However you feel about it—angry, resigned, depressed, scared, numb—is real and right. If you want to talk, the Games and Online Harassment Hotline is here for you.”
You can reach the support group by texting SUPPORT to 23368.