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"What makes me sad is that I hear in the game industry that there are all these diversity programs, but then, if you're looking for diversity, for new perspectives, there are really a lot of new perspectives in those countries the US is blocking."
- Independent game developer Mahdi Bahrami, speaking to Glixel about the recent selective travel ban implemented by the United States.
What does the White House's recent executive order selectively banning travel to/from seven Middle Eastern nations, including Iran, mean for the game industry?
In the days since the order was implemented last Friday, it's mostly meant protests around the globe, statements from developers taking a public stand against the ban, and the ESA urging the White House to "exercise caution" as "the U.S. video game industry thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world."
Going forward, devs should note that Iranian game designer Mahdi Bahrami (Engare, Farsh) believes it stamps out significant progress made in expanding the scope and diversity of both the U.S. and Iranian game industries.
Worse, says Bahrani, the U.S. game industry is being cut off from valuable talent and perspectives -- right as relations between the two countries were on an upswing.
"It breaks my heart," Bahrami recently told Glixel. "Things were getting better. Iran having a nuclear deal with the US. For the first time in 40 years the foreign ministers of the US and Iran were directly solving a problem. And now, even if you're a PhD student in the US, just because of this new order, you can't go there. It's like all the hopes we had for the past few years are just gone."
Bahrami himself is a notable talent, having had multiple games nominated for IGF awards and other honors over the past few years despite the significant obstacles that faced Iranian game developers before this order was implemented. You can find more details about those obstacles and how he overcame them in the full Glixel feature.