Just a few months ago, Games Done Quick finally returned to a physical venue for the first time since the pandemic began. The speedrunning organization and its bi-annual charity events were still successful online, but the organizers told Fanbyte that they were eager to once again get back to in-person events when possible. After numerous delays due to things like new COVID variants, GDQ was able to hold an in-person event for Summer Games Done Quick earlier this year. It would be easy to assume that this meant that Awesome Games Done Quick, the corollary event that takes place in January, would follow suit.
Not so, it seems.
In a Twitter thread today, GDQ’s organizers announced that Awesome Games Done Quick would be going back to an online event without a central physical presence. The convention/stream was intended to be held in Florida, a contract deal they made in 2021. The global pandemic obviously delayed things, so they were set to bring it there this year. Due to Florida’s COVID policies, however, the GDQ organizers did not think it safe to hold a mass-gathering for AGDQ. They chose to cancel with the venue, but the cancellation fee drained the resources they would need to book somewhere new and reconfigure the necessary logistics in a new state.
For SGDQ in June, all the runners, audience members, and commentators at least on camera wore masks to help limit the spread of COVID, which is an airborne virus. Studies show that proper N95 masks limit the spread of COVID significantly and there is no evidence of SGDQ being a superspreader event as a result. Florida, meanwhile, pushes back against this. Under the state government’s own guidelines, “Florida’s new masking guidance advises against wearing facial coverings in a community setting.”
While they don’t come right out and say it, it seems extremely likely that the venue would not have allowed GDQ to enforce the same mask-wearing policies that it had at SGDQ. Combined with other lax COVID policies, like a significantly shorter waiting period than the CDC recommends for COVID positive people to be out in public, and you have a recipe for a lot of speedrunners getting very sick.
Additionally, Florida’s aggressive posturing against LGBTQ+ rights — notably lead by Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill — convinced organizers that Florida is not a welcoming place for the community. Considering how much of the community identifies as LGBTQ+, it’s probably a good call to not put anyone in a situation where they have to fear for their safety by traveling.
There will, undoubtedly, be people who read or hear about this story and attempt to bark back that they should keep politics out of this and just do the event for charity. To those people I say, the government of Florida takes the blame for introducing politics into people’s health and identities. No one made them do that. They don’t get to live consequence-free for being shitty decision-makers.
Basically, shut the fuck up.