Global Game Jam stands for the right of all people to live, be creative, and to build community and friendships in a safe and peaceful environment. We recognize the brave community members and game developers in Ukraine as they deal with the effects of the ongoing war in their country. By bringing you their stories and images we hope you will gain a better understanding of the conditions they are facing along with some resources where you can send help if you wish.
We support all game developers working under difficult conditions, if you would like us to share your stories and highlight your community please reach us at [email protected].
Mykola Mozgovyi is a Global Game Jam organizer from Kharkiv, and a volunteer of the game developer community.
Ruslana Kruchek is a co-founder, brand manager, and art director of the VP Production audio agency. Their team crafts sonic identities for games, brands, and apps. VP Production approaches any audio (game one as well) as a marketing asset. The VP team works both with indie studios and product companies. Among their video game soundtracks are FoxTail, Trash is Fun, WildCraft, and Haydee I & II.
Stas Shostak is an Ukrainian indiedeveloper - author of indie games and music videos.
Oleksandr Sienin is from Starni Games who works on Ukraine War Stories - a set of visual novels based on real events and eyewitness accounts. It will be charity funded and the main goal is to spread more accurate information about the events in Ukraine. The team is based in Kyiv and they reopened the office starting in June after working remotely in spring.
How has war changed your daily life as a game developer and in general?
Ruslana: We stayed at my parents' apartment for the first two months. It is located in a relatively safe area, as our apartment is very close to the Odesa airport (which was hit by missile attacks several times).
We had to disassemble our studio, and that's why we couldn't work. I can't say I even felt like working. My mind was wandering a lot, I lost the ability to concentrate, and I was in a state that psychiatrists call ADWA (Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety). So it took me some time to adjust to the new reality.
However, even if we couldn’t work, we tried to be helpful. For example, we participated in cyber attacks, reported bots and harmful accounts, spread awareness by translating articles, etc. We also launched our initiative, where we raise donations for aid funds by selling our music on Bandcamp. Plus, we donate all the money we get from the streaming platforms. We still do that, by the way.
At some point, we understood that we were ready to get back to our apartment and studio. I was sure about this decision because I saw that Vlad was composing music on his iPhone. I knew it was time.
Since early May, we've been working full time, with schedule adjustments to air raid alerts. We finished two big projects and continue to work on a few more. Vlad and I are lucky that Odesa is far enough from the frontline to have a somewhat 'normal' life. Nevertheless, we have team members who experience constant shelling but keep working. I don't understand how they do that, but I greatly admire them. Still, the war affects my mental state a lot. It's like constant pain and suffering that lives rent-free in your head.
Stas: I basically stopped being a game developer and for a month or so was driving as a volunteer - stuff for the army to the east (not to the frontlines, but closer to them) and refugees back to the west. Last week my life changed completely - I’m being drafted to the armed forces, and with no previous military experience I expect it to be quite hard times for me, but I understand the necessity. (Stas has now joined Ukrainian Armed Forces.)
What has helped you personally during these times?
Ruslana: Simple things. The first thing I discovered was a painting by numbers, which helped me regain my ability to focus. Then, I found that light-hearted films help me a lot to distract myself from the newsfeed. We also played Horizon Forbidden West, and it was a great thing to escape reality, even for a short time. Oh, and funny enough, a simple merge mobile game also has helped me to live through the first weeks. Our dog Appa (we call her the Happiness Manager of our team) is extremely helpful. She’s a little ray of sunshine. Also working helps a lot. I feel blessed to have the possibility to create something impactful and inspiring in such dark times.
Mykola: I got acquainted with the Estonian Defense League. In partnership with Andres Moks, we’ve managed to find and deliver 15 trucks for the Ukrainian military, besides various humanitarian aid and fuel. Having a way to help and knowing the impact surely helps.
What are good ways to support Ukrainians?
Ruslana: We have so many initiatives and ways to support Ukrainians. On VP Production’s socials, we weekly highlight new aid initiatives. Recently I got very touched by the Voices of Children charitable foundation. Also, it’s great that there are aggregators like UNITED24 and Defend Ukraine where you can find multiple ways to support our country.
Our friends from the Games Gathering Conference are also doing a great job with their Gamedev Under Bombs initiative. Oh, and you can always listen to our music and purchase it on Bandcamp. This simple act will transform into real money that will serve our freedom.
Oleksandr: I think the key thing is the “every little bit helps” principle. There are many ways to help - direct donations, charities, helping refugees, supporting businesses in Ukraine, going on demonstrations in your countries in support of Ukraine, spreading the word about the events in Ukraine, and so on. I think one of the best well-known and respected funds is https://savelife.in.ua/en.