Global Politics

Ukraine's gamers take to the streets in protest

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Pro-European integration protesters are pictured through an Ukrainian flag decorated with the European Union stars during a mass rally at Independence Square in Kiev.

Credit:

Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

Ukrainians are divided. Should the country align itself more with the European Union? Or with Russia?  

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Those divisions have nearly paralyzed the country. Protesters on both sides of the question have taken to Independence Square in the capital Kiev to have their voices heard.

The protests have brought Ukraine's game designers and developers together against Russian influence in their Baltic country.

"These guys all work together in Kiev and they saw each other. They were blogging and invited each other to support Ukraine's intervention with the European Union," said Colin Campbell, reporter for Polygon, a website devoted to video gaming.

Some Ukrainian game designers who joined the protests were hesitant to speak with us, concerned about government retribution. But they did speak to Campbell. 

"When I spoke with them, they said that one of the frustrations they have with their government is that they don't particularly feel the business climate in Ukraine is very inviting for new businesses. Some companies have set up business in Ukraine because they like doing business there, but the locals feel they could do a lot more to be more welcoming," he said.

Ukraine's gaming industry is said to produce roughly $40 million annually.  It's successful, said Campbell, because "it's said to go back to the Cold War years, when a lot of young men were keen to get their hands on home computers and spend a lot of money playing video games. These guys are now in their 30s and 40s and understand how technology works." 

But don't count on the protests being reflected in any video game at the moment. One designer with 4A Games, said these "types of games that we develop usually take several year to make. So we could not really create a game about the protests that are happening right now.

Campbell said, though, that there are more games being developed that reflect a political point of view — such as ones dealing with immigration and slavery.