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Game Awards Honorees Demand Show Acknowledge Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

Every year The Game Awards acknowledges a Future Class, a collection of burgeoning young members of the industry that its director, Emily Bouchoc, and others have deemed “represent the bright, bold, and inclusive future for video games.” This year, not long before The Game Awards 2023 is set to kick off on December 7, members of the Future Class (of which there are 150, 50 for each year since its inception in 2020) are using their platform to demand the award show, Bouchoc, and host Geoff Keighley acknowledge the current humanitarian crisis taking place in Gaza.

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At the time of writing, 66 TGA Future Class members have backed an open letter to The Game Awards, which currently has over 2,400 total signatures from other industry members. The letter begins with a reminder of who they are, and what they represent:

It continues, stating that they see speaking out as part of their “role as ambassadors for a better future,” before detailing the current situation in Palestine. “The genocide that is being acted on the Palestinian people is abhorrent. It isn’t a new situation, but the developments that are currently unfolding have reached a new high in their horror.” The letter quotes directly from a November 6 report by United Nations Secretary-General Antònio Guterres, which stated that “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day.” At the time of writing, roughly 14,800 Palestinians have been killed, about 6,000 of which are children.

The open letter then points to the fact that this year’s Golden Joystick Awards would not allow political statements, prompting Thirsty Suitors writer Meghna Jayanth to back out of presenting the Best Storytelling award.

“With the current state of the game industry, silence is a message. Silence is tacit support. Silence is dehumanization of Palestinian lives,” the letter reads. It then urges The Game Awards 2023 team, Keighley, and Bouchoc to read a statement during the December 7 ceremony that calls for:

The games industry to invest resources and work against its systematic dehumanization of people from South-West Asia and North AfricaTo express support for the protection of Palestinian human rightsCall for a long term ceasefire before any more civilian lives are unjustly taken

At least one member of the Future Class has spoken out against the letter, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that he does not support its content, claiming it “perpetuates misinformation, one-sidedness, and an irresponsible conflation of the war in Israel/Gaza with xenophobia and misrepresentation of muslims, arabs, and brown people in video games.” He did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

“No one from the Game Awards reached out to us,” game developer and open letter organizer Younès Rabii told me over DM. “Geoff and The Game Awards’ accounts have been directly addressed on Twitter and Bluesky. We also addressed them in the private Future Class Discord server they themselves created, but we still have no reply from them.”

Kotaku reached out to the team behind The Game Awards for comment.

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