Texas remains one of the most promising and welcoming states for game developers. The latest anti-abortion law, however, might affect companies located there, as it might become harder for them to hire women.
On May 19, Texas governor Greg Abbot signed Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which bans abortions after six weeks and puts a $10,000 bounty on doctors and everyone who helps make this procedure done. The law, which entered into force on September 1, caused huge controversy.
A lot of game companies and developers like Cory Barlog criticized SB8. On the other hand, Tripwire Interactive CEO John Gibson supported the law, even if it resulted in him stepping down from his role at the studio.
Game companies have been moving to Texas for years due to its lack of income tax. The state is already home to Zynga, id Software, Gearbox, and Arkane Austin. This year, studios like Crystal Dynamics, Wizards of the Coast, and Activision Blizzard opened new offices there.
Game Developer spoke to a few game developers about how they think the anti-abortion law will affect the US games industry. An anonymous developer said that it will be harder for studios to recruit women now because SB8 also “affects women having miscarriages and might get sued by someone who ‘suspects something.’”
Another developer thinks that the law adds a new abusive tool to control employees, especially the ones who deal with stalking or other forms of misconduct in the workplace.
An audio designer noted that SB8 might be a threat to diversity in the games industry. She thinks that while the situation started to change, studios might start to hire more cisgender men again because of the law. “Women are being told to be terrified, and not to move here,” her friend added.
“I don’t see how any studio can credibly say they’re working for a more diverse and inclusive industry when they’re based in a state with policies that so flagrantly hostile to marginalized people,” a senior developer noted.
“Companies are welcomed with open arms, but citizens are left on their own,” AI designer Marcie Philips told Game Developer. She thinks that studios should allow female employees to work from other states.