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Russian Gamers Who Spoke Out Against The Ukraine Invasion

According to the BBC, "In a pre-dawn TV address on 24 February, President Putin declared Russia could not feel "safe, develop and exist" because of what he claimed was a threat from Ukraine. What followed was an invasion of Russian, Crimean, and Belarusian forces into Ukraine by land, air, and sea. The BBC also stated the Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed "his goal was to protect people subjected to bullying and genocide and aim for the "demilitarization and de-Nazification" of Ukraine." Yet this justification holds little weight as, "there has been no genocide in Ukraine: it is a vibrant democracy, led by a president who is Jewish."

Many have died in the weeks that followed and the world has watched as these events have unfolded. Many have spoken out against Russia's actions — and not all of them from the outside. Numerous Russian nationals are against the war and several of those with voice and influence are making their opposition known. In the western world, many gaming companies have blocked support for Russian gamers, but those very gamers are also using their influence to be heard. Gamers might not seem like a particularly influential force in global conflicts, but many of them have massive international audiences. Here are a few that have spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine.

Magic: The Gathering player demands neutral flag

One area people might be surprised to hear a protest arise is in the world of trading card games. Russian pro "Magic: The Gathering" player Dmitry Medvedev is most well known for competing under the Pauper Format which restricts players to using cards printed at common rarity and restricting the use of the rarer, and typically more expensive cards, although he's also known for playing Vintage, Legacy, and Standard. He's competed in numerous domestic and international tournaments such as the Red Bull Untapped Online Qualifier, the Kaldheim Championship, and the Grand Prix in Brussels, Barcelona, Krakow, Strasbourg, Warsaw, Kuala Lampur, Madison, Moscow, Bangkok, and Amsterdam.

Medvedev stated in a tweet posted on the first day of the invasion, "I must admit it never felt black and white to me until today but what happens now is beyond any meaning of acceptable. I demand @wizards_magic to provide me with a neutral flag for the upcoming Championship." The account has yet to respond to Medvedev's demand, but it seems unlikely that the American company will force him to compete under the Russian flag if he doesn't wish to.

Indie developer Tallboys decries those who chose war

A Russian indie video game development studio called Tallboys has also spoken out against the war. Tallboys is the studio behind the games "Pandemic Express" and "Where the Clouds End." The team is currently working on a new game called "Militsoner" in which the player is a fugitive in a provincial town where everyone thinks they're guilty and a giant police officer in the sky is watching their every move. The player must try to escape while the officer tries to provoke them into committing crimes and exposing their guilt.

Tallboys sent out a tweet on the first day of the invasion, writing, " F*** the war, this morning we woke up in the middle of madness. F*** the war, there is only feelings of anger and powerlessness. F*** the war, we do not condone it in any shape of form, f*** the ones who do." This isn't the first time the studio has been at odds with the Russian government, either. The studio proudly tweeted several clips from what it called "a Russian state-owned TV channel" which accused Tallboys of trying to instill fear of people in uniform and engaging in informational warfare after the trailer for its game was released. "Militsoner" is currently available for pre-order on Steam.

More game devs join in protest

Hundreds of other gaming developers have banded together across multiple other studios as well, and signed a document titled, "an open letter from Russian game industry workers against the war with Ukraine." The letter was published by Nakita Ivanov, who is the Content Manager at DevGAMM, a conference for people involved in the game industry. The letter states, (translated by Google Translate) "We are all citizens of the multinational Russian Federation. ... Sometimes we make games about war, but we don't want the war to spread from monitors and TVs into the real world. With this open letter, we declare: we are against the war." The letter goes on to call on the Russian authorities to cease hostilities, arguing that "no geopolitical reasons justify unleashing a bloody war with a neighboring state, with a fraternal people."

Several Russian developers working for major studios such as CD Project Red, Epic Games and numerous others have signed the letter. The document has over 2,400 signatures at the time of writing.

IT workers are protesting too

While DevGamm holds a very gaming specific community, there is another, larger, community that also seems to have been gathering signatures. TechCrunch reported that an open letter in the form of a Google Document has been circulating the Russian IT industry since the day the invasion began that has been gathering signatures. As of March 1, the petition had allegedly already gathered over 30,000 signatures from named IT workers. According to the article, these IT workers identify themselves as "entrepreneurs, product managers, heads of customer experience, analytics, backend developers, product designers, marketing specialists, devops engineers, iOS engineers, gameplay developers, system analysts, IT recruiters and many, many more." This represents a wide community that encapsulates gamers as well as numerous other fields.

The letter allegedly begins, "we, the employees of the Russian IT industry, are categorically against military actions on the territory of Ukraine initiated by the armed forces of the Russian Federation." It then goes on to state that those who have signed the letter believe the war to be unjust and undesirable, asking Russian leadership to "resolve this situation peacefully and prevent human casualties."

TechCrunch reported that the letter was started by an IT specialist named Natalia Lukyanchikova who initially posted the petition on Facebook, although the post can no longer be accessed at this time.

Russian Chess players ask Putin to stop the war

When it comes to gaming, there are few arenas where Russia has been more competitive than chess. This is widely seen as a point of social and political pride for the nation. That's why it's so significant that 44 top Russian chess players have published an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin voicing firm opposition to the war and their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

According to Chess.com, "Signees include the most recent world championship challenger, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi; 12th Women's World Champion and Director of ChesscomRU, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk; eight-time Russian champion, GM Peter Svidler; GM Andrey Esipenko; GM Daniil Dubov; and many more."

The letter states, "We are against any military action on the territory of Ukraine and call for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful [resolution] to the conflict through the path of dialogue and diplomatic negotiations. For us, it is unbearably painful to see the catastrophe that is happening these days with our people."

Hopefully, their voices will be heard.