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Games Done Quick scraps Florida event, citing state’s COVID and anti-LGBTQ policies

Awesome Games Done Quick will instead take place online Jan. 8-15

Speedrunner Aquas plays Contra 3: The Alien Wars onscreen at a Games Done Quick event. Photo: Games Done Quick
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Games Done Quick, the organization that runs speedrunning marathons for charity, announced Wednesday that next year’s Awesome Games Done Quick will take place Jan. 8-15, 2023. But the wintertime event, previously scheduled to be held in Florida, will remain online-only, organizers say, citing that state’s approach to COVID-19 and “increased aggression” toward LGBTQ people.

“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,” Games Done Quick organizers said in a statement posted to Twitter. “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.”

In March, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill restricting the discussion that public school teachers can have around “sexual orientation or gender identity.” The Don’t Say Gay bill is part of a greater conservative movement against LGBTQ Americans, which includes similar bills in three other primarily Republican states. The Don’t Say Gay bill has also been challenged on a constitutional level, with critics saying the bill both demonizes LGBTQ Americans and puts an undue burden on public school teachers. Florida has also enacted new rules that ban healthcare providers from using state Medicaid funds for gender-affirming medical treatment. GDQ has hosted multiple trans speedrunners at its events.

DeSantis has also drawn criticism for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic after he banned mask mandates and described COVID as “a very minor risk.” Florida’s masking guidance “advises against wearing facial coverings in a community setting,” saying that employees should not be forced to wear a mask while at work.

Games Done Quick organizers say they had secured a contract with a Florida venue in 2021. While the organization had not held any in-person events due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GDQ had originally intended to use that venue. Using an alternative venue would have incurred a contract cancellation fee; as such, Games Done Quick is hosting AGDQ 2023 online.

Games Done Quick says its organization will still have “considerable costs to recover” and will be looking to “recover it wherever possible, including community support via Twitch subs.” Game and volunteer submissions for Awesome Games Done Quick open on Sept. 11 on the organization’s official website.

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