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Video game event in Florida called off because of state’s stances

Games Done Quick makes upcoming fundraiser strictly virtual, citing concern about covid-19 policies, ‘don’t say gay’ law

(iStock and GamesDoneQuick/Washington Post illustration)

The video game charity event Awesome Games Done Quick 2023 will not be taking place in Florida as planned. In an announcement Thursday, the event’s organizer, Games Done Quick (GDQ), said it does not believe Florida to be “a safe place for our community at this time,” citing the state’s covid-19 protocols and Parental Rights in Education Act (known colloquially as the “don’t say gay” law).

Games Done Quick is a semiannual event featuring speedruns, where gamers rush through a video game with the goal of finishing it as quickly as possible through careful planning, skill and often leveraging a game’s bugs in ingenious ways. For nearly a decade, Awesome Games Done Quick was held in the D.C. area until 2020 when GDQ hosted the event in Orlando. This year’s event was to mark Awesome Games Done Quick’s return as an in-person event (2021 and 2022 were virtual events due to coronavirus measures), but it is now planned to be purely virtual once more.

“While we would love to return in-person, we’ve determined that to provide a safe and welcoming event to all, it was best that we move away from our originally planned location in Florida,” wrote GDQ on its website. “Given the state’s continued disregard for covid-19’s dangers (including anti-mandate vaccination policies) and an increased aggression toward LGBTQ+ individuals, including the law colloquially known as ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ we do not believe it is a safe place for our community at this time.”

GDQ’s winter event, Awesome Games Done Quick, is held every January to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. GDQ has prominently featured trans gamers in its events as both hosts and creators. It also started Frame Fatales, an all-women speedrunning event for the Malala Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to girls’ education, which was co-founded by Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.

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In the statement, GDQ said it had originally secured a Florida venue for 2021’s event but postponed its use due to the pandemic. After seeking out other venues to host Awesome Games Done Quick 2023 in person, GDQ said the cost of paying out its current venue’s cancellation fee and finding a new one were too much. The event organizers did not specify the name of the venue in the release and did not respond to questions from The Post at the time of publication.

“While the move to online will allow us to save some on expenses, we still have considerable costs to recover,” wrote GDQ on its website. “We are looking to recover that money where possible, including with community support via Twitch subs. We thank the community for their support!”

Games Done Quick, which was founded by Northern Virginia native Mike Uyama, has raised over $35 million for charity since its inaugural event in 2010. The organization runs two events each year dedicated to different charities: Awesome Games Done Quick in the winter for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Summer Games Done Quick in the summer for Doctors Without Borders.

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which was championed by and signed into effect by the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), places restrictions on classroom discussions regarding gender, sexual orientation and LGBTQ issues. The White House has described the law as thinly veiled attack on LGBTQ rights, calling it “discrimination, plain and simple” in an official statement. The law has also been condemned by dozens of major corporations including Sony Interactive Entertainment, Starbucks and Target. In March, Disney announced it would be halting all political donations in Florida due to the law after the company’s own workers criticized CEO Bob Chapek for not taking action sooner.

In Awesome Games Done Quick 2022, speedrunner Mitchriz beat FromSoftware’s “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” (a notoriously hard title from a developer famed for creating brutally difficult games) in just two hours — while blindfolded. Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 raised a total of $3.4 million from thousands of donors who watched the event online.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2023 will run from Jan. 8 to 15, 2023.

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