Trump’s ban sends waves through game industry

Courtesy of Kotaku Video game director Navid Khonsari was born in Quebec but lived in Iran until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Khonsari directed a game about the revolution called, “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” last April.

Courtesy of Kotaku
Video game director Navid Khonsari was born in Quebec but lived in Iran until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Khonsari directed a game about the revolution called, “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” last April.

By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer

On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning the citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country. In conjunction with the ban, owners of visas found their endorsements revoked, essentially forcing them to abandon their livelihoods and return to their respective home countries. However, after mere hours of protesting, controversy and public outcry, the ban was temporarily nullified, allowing residents to continue traveling.

Yet the repeal, although a victory for immigrants, is nothing more than a provisional fix. If reinstated, the ban has the potential to drastically impact the development of current and future video games.

Iranian native and video game director Navid Khonsari shares these concerns.

In an interview published by video game website Kotaku, Khonsari outlined his fears with regards to the possibility of another ban. After directing titles such as “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” and, more recently, “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,” Khonsari worries about the future of not only his career, but for his family as well.

“I’m married,” writes Kotaku editor Nathan Grayson, describing Khonsari’s concerns. “I have two children, and I want to make sure that if I go abroad that I can also be able to come back to my home and to my family and not be locked out.”

Video games are one of the largest forms of media in the world. Developers have a unique opportunity to tell incredible stories, whether based on personal experiences, ancient myths or even wild and imaginative fairy tales. When gamers enter these exotic landscapes, we are witnessing the creativity brought to life by these individuals. Without the artistic visions of people like Khonsari, the development of popular video games would suffer. The vibrant and lore-intensive worlds rely on the ideas of these directors, producers and designers.

Thankfully, Khonsari is not alone in the struggle.

According to a report published by USA Today, 127 businesses associated with technology filed a suit against the ban, hoping to successfully place a continuous hold on the executive order. On Monday, companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Netflix argued that the ban was unconstitutional, and the loss of immigrant workers would surely hinder the creative developments of these companies. Furthermore, the tech giants believe that the restriction placed on travel would negatively impact deals between companies and the respective nations.

With such a large and diverse group of people protesting the executive order, it’s hard to
ignore the political unrest felt across the nation. Much like a video game, America’s foundation was the result of an amalgamation of different ideals and perspectives. By removing a portion of these communities, we are effectively creating an unpolished piece of work.

An unopened door leading to a temple full of riches remains sealed, the final track in the latest racing title becomes unavailable and the horrifying behemoth is only able to attack with a single, highly-predictable swing of his club. Without immigrants, our latest adventures will feel shallow.

Without immigrants, our video games will never be complete.

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