Ukrainian developers open up about making games during wartime
Ukrainian developers are giving gamers a powerful look at the impacts of Russia’s invasion of their country.
Driving the news: Those glimpses have appeared online over the past few days in the midst of digital showcases of upcoming video games.
- Such events are generally stuffed with flashy trailers and narrated with promotional talking points.
- Not so, for a few minutes each during two recent shows.
What they’re saying: “We have air raid sirens around the clock,” says Taras Kukurian, community manager at Ukraine-based studio GSC Game World, as he walks amid shattered buildings in a video released yesterday as part of an Xbox showcase.
- “For 3 months, I live and work in this corridor,” says narrative designer Dariia Tsepkova, gesturing to the narrow space she shares with a one-eyed dog she says was rescued from the shelling of the city of Hostomel.
- Some of the GSC developers got out of the country. Others did not. Some try to continue development. Others appear in fatigues, saying they’re fighting to defend their country.
- What they expected to be doing and what some still are doing is make STALKER 2, a first-person shooter that the war has delayed until 2023.
- Says the writer Tsepkova: “It’s not easy to write violent quests when there’s a war outside your window.”
During the weekend’s Future Games Show, several independent Ukrainian developers shared their experiences living under siege.
- They talked about living in hallways, escaping bombardments through railway tunnels and struggling to focus with day-to-day life.
- And then they shared their games: a peaceful adventure, a Mars colony-builder, a noir detective story and one set amid nightmares.
- Another showcased was Zero Losses, an unusual war game about driving a supply truck to support combatants in a war-torn land.
The big picture: Games aren’t just played by people around the world. They’re made by people around the world.
- That creates an opportunity to connect players to events happening far from their homes.
- The invasion of Ukraine has been widely discussed in gaming. Support for Ukraine from the culture and the industry has been prominent.
The bottom line: These showcase videos were a moment to bring the tragedy of the invasion back to the fore.
- They come at a time when Russian forces are gaining in Ukraine’s east while media attention on the war fades.
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