Sep 8, 2022 - Technology

Gaming charity shuns Florida, says state policies are unsafe

Photo of a crowd of people sitting in an auditorium

The AGDQ event in Orlando in 2020. Photo: Awesome Games Done Quick

One of gaming’s most successful grassroots charity events, Awesome Games Done Quick, will not be held in Florida next year, due to the state’s policies about COVID-19 and LGBTQ+ rights, organizers say.

Driving the news: The weeklong showcase event, which features expert players blitzing through games as fast as possible, will be held virtually from Jan. 8-15.

  • Organizers originally had rented a venue in Orlando but will pay a cancellation fee.

What they’re saying: “This decision was made first and foremost for the safety of our community,” AGDQ director of operations Matt Merkle tells Axios.

  • On Twitter, organizers blamed Florida’s “anti-mandate policies” regarding COVID masks and vaccines as well as “an increased aggression toward LGBTQ+ individuals, including the law colloquially known as ‘Don't Say Gay.’”

Between the lines: AGDQ has been held virtually for the last two years, but ran in person in Orlando in 2020. Merkle said that event drew 3,500 people.

  • This year’s event raised $3.4 million through donations for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

The big picture: Organizers of large sporting events and conventions will sometimes threaten to avoid holding them in a specific city or state to pressure change to a controversial governmental policy.

  • In 2021, for example, Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game out of Georgia in reaction to the state’s restrictive, new voting law.
  • The idea is that such moves put an economic price on political decisions.
  • AGDQ’s Merkle does not believe that moving his event will carry anything close to the same economic weight: “While it would be great to see this cancellation spur Florida to make improvements, we can’t speculate as to what the exact economic impact will be to the city and the businesses near the venue.”

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