At least six people say they were roofied at a Game Developers Conference afterparty in San Francisco last week, while other assault reports are trickling in, and the primarily male-attended conference is suffering some serious reputational damage.
It’s got to be tough to be a woman at the Game Developers Conference, held last week at the Moscone Center, considering that footage from the ground shows that attendance skewed very strongly male. But it’s a whole other level of trouble the conference is dealing with this week, as the industry publication GamesIndustry.biz reports at least six people say they had their drinks spiked at a conference afterparty, in addition to incidents of “alleged harassment occurring on the show floor,” and one in an unnamed SF hotel.
We've been informed of multiple folks that were roofied last Thursday night in SF, most probably at the karaoke event we hosted.— Guy 'Yug' Blomberg (@YugSTAR) March 25, 2023
Thankfully they had friends who looked after them and they're ok all things considered.
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The allegations broke Saturday in the above Twitter thread from Stride PR vice president and Games Industry Gathering founder Guy Blomberg. “We've been informed of multiple folks that were roofied last Thursday night in SF, most probably at the karaoke event we hosted,” he wrote. (The bar in question is the Tenderloin’s Pandora Karaoke Bar, and this would have been an unofficial afterparty not thrown by the conference.) Further in the same thread, Blomberg adds, “We are doing everything we can to work with the venue, look through security footage, and reach out to various people.”
Here is an update answering a handful of questions that Guy and I have gotten about our karaoke party Thursday night. Since posting, we've now been reached out to about multiple drink-spiking instances at multiple parties and venues over multiple nights last week (W-F).— Ty Taylor (@IMakeIndieGames) March 27, 2023
Party co-organizer Ty Taylor adds in the thread to the above tweet, “Since posting, we've now been reached out to about multiple drink-spiking instances at multiple parties and venues over multiple nights last week.” He notes that “For their privacy I won’t disclose too much about the victims, but across the 3 nights and 4 events, we know of 4 women and 2 men who were spiked. One is intending to go to the SF police, so I am hoping that leads to expedition of access to the footage.”
Women at GDC this year have been belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men.— Leena 🌵 (@LeenaVanD) March 24, 2023
Two women were even lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a “pitch”, where he then assaulted them.
Meanwhile, game developer Leena van Deventer had tweeted previously on Friday, “Women at GDC this year have been belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men.” She further alleged that “Two women were even lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a ‘pitch’, where he then assaulted them.”
Every year, there are stories about groping, drugging, harassment, and even more stories of countless attempts to create opportunities for assault at games industry events like #GDC23. It's heartbreaking and infuriating that this feels so normalized...— Games and Online Harassment Hotline (@GamesHotline) March 25, 2023
Text SUPPORT to 23368. pic.twitter.com/XGpwcO8nvt
The conference responded to GamesIndustry.biz with a statement that "We are very upset to hear that some people, especially women, reported concerning experiences during the GDC week at off-site events, including assault and drink spiking. This is outrageous and unacceptable; everyone has a right to feel safe. We severely condemn any such behavior and support the victims; we encourage reporting to the police and hope the perpetrators will be found.”
The statement continued that "At the GDC event, we take everyone's safety very seriously, we do our best to provide a secure environment on site, we enforce a strict code of conduct and make sure that the GDC team is available to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, to provide escorts, or to otherwise assist those experiencing unacceptable behavior to feel safe for the duration of the conference."
For anyone affected by this or similar incidents, GamesIndustry.biz has compiled a list of resources for assault victims which they put together in the wake of 2021 Activision Blizzard sexual assault scandal.
Related: Game Developers Conference Opened Today at Moscone Center, Drawing an Estimated 24,000 [SFist]
Image: Official GDC via Flickr