The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the US gaming industry, has released a measured and somewhat tepid statement regarding the recent Muslim ban instated by Donald Trump. In it, they ask the White House for “caution”.
Since Saturday, travellers and duel-nationals from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Syria have been barred from entering the US (all seven countries are Muslim-majority). Some legal US residents who carry green cards have been detained or turned away from flights to the US. It is a dark and shameful moment in US history that sets it back decades in foreign policy, ethics and empathy.
The ESA said today, “The Entertainment Software Association urges the White House to exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs.” They note that gaming companies “rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike. Our nation’s actions and words should support their participation in the American economy”.
The press release adds that they recognise that “enhancing national security and protecting our country’s citizens” are critical. In an email, the ESA did not provide further comment.
The ESA has published Press Releases about immigration and travel issues before, including P1 Visas, which foreign esports athletes must obtain before competing in major US tournaments. After the Trans-Pacific Partnership passed, the ESA expressed the importance of fair trade to the industry — something that may be tested after US President Trump renegotiates the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and imposes a high tariff on Mexican trade.
Over the weekend, game-makers like Playdots, Inc., Cardboard Computer, MidBoss and Vlambeer pushed back against the travel ban. Game Developers’ Conference representatives full-throatedly described their reaction as “horrified”, asking the community to “keep fighting for inclusivity”. The ESA’s statement reads a little spineless in comparison, but as lobbyists, they can’t really say much.