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$290,000 GDC Relief Fund shared among 177 devs, new accelerator

Wings Interactive co-founder Cassia Curran grateful for "amazing desire to help" from across the industry

The GDC Relief Fund has been distributed to just shy of 180 developers around the world.

The fund was set up earlier this year by Wings Interactive, an organisation that seeks ways to help support games developers from diverse backgrounds.

It was started to support developers that would be more financially impacted by the cancellation of GDC 2020 in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund was one of many efforts from across the games industry to help those affected by the show's absence.

Thanks to a mix of 28 sponsors, plus industry-wide donations and fundraisers, the GDC Relief Fund was able to raise $291,311 that could go towards helping developers who had lost money on non-refundable flights and hotels, or would miss out on the crucial business opportunities offered by the conference.

$148,714 of this will be split between 177 applicants, making for an average payout of just under $700.

Cassia Curran, Wings Interactive

The rest will be used to form Elevate 2020: GDC Relief Fund Accelerator, a 15-week online program that will offer guidance, mentorship and more for indie developers affected by GDC's cancellation. The incubator will be run by Code Coven, an online bootcamp specifically for marginalised game developers.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Wings Interactive co-founder Cassia Curran said she was astonished by the industry support for the fund.

"It honestly took on a life of its own," she said "There was an amazing desire to help from all corners."

She added: "The generosity of everyone was such that we were able to help all that applied."

There were initially over 200 applicants seeking support from the fund, but as the pandemic progressed and various hotels and flights began offering refunds for previously non-refundable tickets, several applicants withdrew their requests.

Developers asking for financial aid came from all around the world, although Curran notes that studios who received a free GDC ticket -- through a diversity scholarship or speaking opportunity, for example -- and then had to borrow money in order to attend were particularly affected.

The fund will help many people, but one story stands out for Curran: "There was a group of unlucky indie game developers from Peru who had decided to travel to San Francisco on their non-refundable tickets anyway, and then calamity struck. Peru closed its borders within 24 hours' notice, and they were stuck in one of the most expensive cities in the world for months. The fund helped all of them to return."

The Wings co-founder expresses gratitude to all the sponsors and supporters who made the fund possible, which range from indie studios like This War Of Mine creator 11 Bit Studios to tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

In particular, GameDev.World -- the online conference organised by Vlambeer's Rami Ismail -- was a huge boost to the project, thanks to its fundraiser which generated over $80,000.

With the fund now distributed, the focus now turns to the Elevate accelerator. Run by Code Coven's Tara Mustapha, the initiative to incubate more developers from marginalised backgrounds will launch in September 2020.

James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was