Thousands of reports from GDC 2023 indicated incidents involving alleged abuse against women at the event and adjacent networking events.
[Trigger warning: This article contains references to sexual assault]
With the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2023 wrapping up this past weekend in San Francisco, allegations have come to light that multiple women were subject to abuse and harassment during networking events and the conference. In the last few days of the event, more than a thousand attendees reported incidents of abuse, assault, harassment and drink spiking.
The claims were shared over social media throughout the weekend. The Stride PR vice president and Games Industry Gathering founder, Guy Blomberg stated he was informed that multiple people had their drinks spiked during the networking events on the evening of Thursday, March 23. Blomberg noted that this most likely occurred at the karaoke event he co-hosted and said he and his co-organizers are investigating who did this.
He posted on Twitter, “I’m so very sorry [folks] had to go through such a horrifying experience, it’s absolutely not their fault. I’m furious this not only happened, but that it tends to happen so frequently that it’s become almost commonplace. It’s NOT f****** okay or acceptable. We are doing everything we can to work with the venue, look through security footage, and reach out to various people.”
Another spokesperson on the matter, game writer and developer Leena van Deventer, reported that women at GDC were “belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men.” She also claimed that two women were “lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a ‘pitch’, where he then assaulted them.”
Van Deventer took the initiative to compile the alleged suspects’ photos and details in group chats to warn other women, and that support has been provided to the victims. “We’ve always had each other’s backs but now you predators better be mindful of our fronts,” she wrote. “We know who you are and who you (currently) work with. We have more info than ever, and more ideas what to do with it; hell hath no fury like a woman informed. Get the hell out of our industry.”
Both Blomberg and Van Deventer directed people to the Games and Online Harassment Hotline. The disappointment was also voiced by the Hotline team, who tweeted: “Every year, there are stories about groping, drugging, harassment, and even more examples of countless attempts to create opportunities for assault at games industry events like GDC. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating that this feels so normalized, like something we all have to just put up with and hope to evade with luck.”
The Games and Online and Harassment Hotline can be contacted by texting SUPPORT to 23368. Investigations are still underway to gather all the details and provide help to as many victims as possible. Other additional resources for victims of sexual harassment can be reached at this list compiled from GamesIndustry.biz Academy.