Watch a bunch of game developers screaming in a public park to protest the state of the industry: 'It feels hard to be here and pretend like everything is fine'

Developers at GDC gathered today to express their feelings about the state of the game industry, in what under the circumstances is really the only reasonable way to react: with a scream.

"The game industry is falling apart around us, and we're all flocking to San Francisco for a week to pretend like this is fine," the GDScream event announcement states. "Let's take a minute where we all stop pretending, and express just how it feels to be a game developer in 2024.

"Join us for a collective moment of catharsis, camaraderie, and caterwauling. Let's descend upon Yerba Buena and when the clock strikes noon, have ourselves a nice big GDScream."

The public scream, organized by former Epic Games producer Caryl Shaw and Fortnite Festival designer Scott Jon Siegel, took place at 12 pm PT/3 pm ET and was exactly what it sounds like: A raw expression of outrage over an industry that has laid off thousands of developers over the past year, throwing countless lives into turmoil in pursuit of shareholder value.

Speaking to PC Gamer at the event, Siegel said he was prompted to organize the event by the frustration he's felt over widespread layoffs and the recent "Gamergate 2.0" controversy over narrative consultancy firm Sweet Baby Inc.

"When you have this many people coming together in the game industry, going to all these events, having all these people attend presentations and awards ceremonies where not necessarily everyone is even mentioning the layoffs, even mentioning where the culture is currently, it all feels absurd," Siegel said. "At the end of the day, it feels hard to be here and pretend like everything is fine in our industry, to say nothing of the world, when things very much aren't.

"So all I really wanted to do ... Can we just get people together for just a moment of catharsis—a single minute, smack in the middle of this entire GDC, can we just have some cathartic caterwauling together, even if we can say nothing else, even if there's nothing else we feel like there's nothing else we can say at this moment, don't let GDC go by without acknowledging that collectively, we feel like things are not okay and we want things to be different."

Developer Jimmy Chi, one of dozens attendees at the public scream, said he's seen many of his friends in the industry lose their jobs, which has resulted in the loss of houses, visas, and even deportation. "Meanwhile, record profits, all the time," Chi said. "The number goes up, and then the number isn't good enough.

"VC funding is a little poisonous because if you are an indie publisher and you get some sort of VC funding, you're basically an indentured indie developer. No one believes in organic growth at the top, whereas everyone knows at the bottom, organic growth makes more money over time. Why are these people so impatient?"

Freelance game writer Anne Toole said the current state of the games industry "is terrible," and impacts everyone, even developers who haven't been laid off.

"I was talking to someone yesterday, [who said] that some people are afraid to join companies if they have not yet had a layoff because now they're worried that as soon as they come, they're going to be the first to be kicked to the curb," Toole said. "And of course it has a distressing effect on the entire industry."

"I think we've all been quietly screaming to ourselves," said Russ Fan, a designer who was laid off in 2023 and spent most of the year out of work. "Now's the time to let it all loose."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.

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