The world is a scary place right now. Never mind the pandemic and the looming climate crisis, we are witnessing one of the most powerful nations on Earth completely disregard international war to violently invade another sovereign nation. Writing this as someone who lives in the relative safety of the UK but who oversees staff based in Ukraine, I feel powerless and terrified.
Video games are our thing at TheGamer, so we’re going to break down some of the best Ukrainian video game studios you can support. Of course, there are lots more important ways to help as well. Donate to humanitarian causes in Ukraine, or help charity drives and fundraisers. Just be aware that human scumbags will use the conflict to scam people, so humanitarian organisations are usually best to donate to over individuals.
We can also make sure, collectively, our politicians are pressured into supporting Ukraine, while The Kyiv Independent is going to be your best resource for the news from Ukraine without Russian propaganda. You can find links and information on all of the above here.
GSC Game World
I gave the Stalker devs a little bit of shit a while ago for getting into NFTs. I can’t imagine anything that matters less right now than pictures of stupid monkeys being sold for fake money. If one of your reactions to the conflict has been a desire to soak up more Ukrainian culture, that’s perfectly legitimate and a clear act of empathy. If video games are the main culture you engage with, Stalker is the obvious first stop. The biggest game to call Ukraine its home, Stalker examines an alternative history exploration of life in the Chernobyl fallout zone.
The Metro devs are based in Malta these days, although its Kyiv office still exists as a support studio. Founded by former GSC staff, 4A has focussed almost entirely on the Metro series since it formed in 2006, but alongside a new Metro game is also working on a new triple-A title, at least as far as job listings from last summer suggest. Metro is based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same name, and involves survivors of a nuclear war fending for themselves as they scurry through Moscow’s Metro system.
Red Beat Studios
Red Beat has mostly made a name for itself as a support studio, providing outsource development most notably on Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but also on NBA Playgrounds and MX Nitro. It has, however, also made its own games, with its biggest hit the survival MMO Frostborn. As a Viking, you must build up your settlement into a mighty capital while exploring to slay wild beats that threaten your safety, find treasure, and discover the land around you.
Frogwares is best known for its Sherlock Holmes series, which sees you investigating various cases as the enigmatic detective himself. Frogwares’ other works include The Sinking City, which takes inspiration from literature yet again by exploring the creations of H.P. Lovecraft. Much like Frogwares’ Sherlock games, The Sinking City is all about unravelling a mystery through investigation mechanics.
Since being founded in 2012, Vostok Games has launched two online shooter games - Fear the Wolves and Survarium. Much like Stalker, Fear the Wolves also revolves around the Chernobyl nuclear fallout. Meanwhile, Survarium is a free-to-play shooter about life on Earth after it has been ravaged by natural disaster. Most interesting though is that Vostok is currently advertising for job openings to join its development team for “a new triple-A shooter based on a world-known IP,” so we might be seeing more from Vostok soon.
11 Bit Studios
11 Bit is Polish, not Ukrainian, but I wanted to mention it briefly at the end. 11 Bit was the first non-Ukrainian studio to address the conflict, and is currently donating all proceeds from This War Of Mine and its DLC to the Red Cross in Ukraine. Check out its statement below for more details. #FuckTheWar
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