The Games Done Quick organization has announced that its 2023 speedrunning event, Awesome Games Done Quick, will be entirely online and no longer an in-person event. The organizers explicitly stated that this was due to Florida's anti-LGBTQ stance, along with the state's lax COVID-19 protocols.
"Given the state’s continued disregard for COVID-19’s dangers (including anti-mandate policies) and an increased aggression towards LGBTQ+ individuals, including the law colloquially known as 'Don't Say Gay,' we do not believe it is a safe place for our community," explained Games Done Quick.
"While we would love to return in-person, we’ve determined that to provide a safe and welcoming event to all it was best that we move away from our originally planned location in Florida."
Earlier in the year, Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which forbids schoolteachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity to kids in grades kindergarten to third grade. Games Done Quick had initially secured Florida as the location for its next in-person event in 2020, before the bill was signed.
Before deciding to move to online, Games Done Quick attempted to find other options to remain in-person, but the organizers said the costs to relocate would be too expensive. "While the move to online will allow us to save some on expenses, we still have considerable costs to recover."
Given the state’s continued disregard for COVID-19’s dangers (including anti-mandate policies) and an increased aggression towards LGBTQ+ individuals, including the law colloquially known as "Don't Say Gay," we do not believe it is a safe place for our community.— Games Done Quick (@GamesDoneQuick) September 7, 2022
Florida isn't a hotspot for games events, but its bill came shortly before Texas revealed its own anti-LGBTQ bill. Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a similar law criminalizing providers of gender-affirmative care for transgender and nonbinary children. Several game developers and tech companies, including the Texas-based Gearbox, spoke out against Abbott's bill.
Developers who reside in Texas have spoken about no longer feeling safe in the state, especially following Abbott's late 2021 bill criminalizing abortions after six weeks. As Texas' bills have been signed into law, several developers-such as 2K and Wizards of the Coast-have opened up offices in the state.