Game Developer Says He Can't Get To GDC Because The US Won't Let Him Into The Country

Amidst recent terrorist attacks last Fall and the heightened focus from presidential candidates on controlling those coming into our country, the United States has tightened security, upping security at airports and keeping a close eye on those who are granted access. And while the security measures are understandable in light of terrorist attacks, one game developer says he can’t get into the United States because of his Iraq connections.

The Scottish indie developer announced the news on Twitter.

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The news comes from trending news website, The Daily Dot, and after reaching out for a comment, the developer described to The Daily Dot that he had never had any troubles in the past, but had learned that things had recently changed.

I’ve travelled to the U.S. in the past and being a British citizen it was a breeze. The requirement is a simple ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application which costs $15. I followed the procedure and received the approval well in time for my trip. After flight delays caused me to divert from to Canada, I finally made it to the final leg of my journey. In Vancouver I spoke to U.S. Homeland Security and Customs who flagged up an issue. After 40 mins of questioning, it transpired that the ESTA rules had changed significantly for anyone with a connection to a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa with serious security issues.

He then posted another Tweet saying how he was going to take action to get to GDC: by trying to get a Tourist Visa.

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Even more recently than when the Daily Dot article was published, he communicated his predictions for this process, which weren’t positive.

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GDC, or the Game Developer’s Conference, only lasts for one week and is a time when developers of all levels (and video game enthusiasts) can come together to showcase their work and network with other developers. The conference not only has events during the day, but also a job fair and several networking parties in the evenings. It’s also a place for indie developers, like Malath Abbas, to gain attention for their titles and spread the word to get gamers interested. Even I have discovered plenty of totally awesome games at GDC, so it’s always sad to see a developer who has worked so hard (and probably paid a pretty penny) only to never make it to the conference beyond their own control.

But then this begs the question, what is the right process for getting into the country if you do run into this sort of problem? Is the next step really a Tourist Visa (which, as Abbas said, could take days to process), or is there an easier way for those who are in a hurry? Some might argue that a country’s security process shouldn’t be rushed for safety concerns, but isn’t there a better way to get those who are part of businesses or need to attend conferences for their job? It’s a gray area and a sensitive discussion.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the story as more information becomes available.