Making video games during war

🇷🇺 Russia has invaded my country 🇺🇦Ukraine. Only 4 days ago, all I was thinking about were finishing a video game and releasing an album with my band. Now, Serhii, my colleague, has joined territorial forces to defend Kyiv, and half of my bandmates are hiding in bomb shelters. I got lucky and flew to Warsaw just 1 day before the invasion has started. But my whole family, most of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are in constant danger. Here is an improvised shelter that my mother made for cats when they were hiding in my father’s office.

You can’t imagine how much pain it feels to hear the shaking voices of your beloved ones or to think that your country might be destroyed. I came to the conclusion if there is no more Ukraine in the world, I just don’t see a reason to live. So I no longer care about the game I was making or any of my material belongings, and I can talk with full honesty about what’s going on.

The First 2 days of the war were probably the worst days of my life. I was in shock and just couldn’t process the new reality. Everyone was frightened, it was surreal to see YouTubers that I followed making videos from their homes with a scare on their faces.

But as time moved on, morale got higher, and it seems like we got used to war. And each day I feel more and more optimistic. You might say that’s because I follow Ukrainian propaganda, which might be the case. But I’ll try to give you a few facts.

Our army is strong and still in control of not only Kyiv but also of all of the major Ukrainian cities including Mariupol and Kharkiv that are in the east and are right near the border to Russia/Russian occupied territories. And according to the article that accidentally was published for some time on a Kremlin-controlled website, Russians expected to take Kyiv and celebrate victory on day 1.

I already witnessed an extreme unity during the Revolution of Dignity in ’14, but it’s not even close to what it’s now. Army, National Guards, Police, and Territorial defense are fighting bravely and ready to risk their lives to protect our freedom. All of our politicians are united, and we have very polar parties. I can’t imagine how Zelenskyi our president, an ex-comedian and actor, is coping with the stress knowing that he won’t survive if Russians will capture Kyiv.

If you’ll take a look at some videos showing Russian corpses you can hear the level of hatred from local citizens without even knowing Ukrainian or Russian. Everyone is doing their best to assist the defense. And lastly, I don’t think if your side is winning you need to make threats with nuclear weapons as Putin already doing, or to force your puppet (Lukashenko) into the war.

I often see a misconception that Putin is bad, but Russians are good and are not supporting the war. That’s not true, please trust me on this as a Russian-speaking Kyiv citizen who had a lot of connections with Russians throughout my entire life.

First of all, Russia is a deeply chauvinist and racist state. I felt this on a personal level on the internet, and in real life when I visited game dev conferences abroad. I remember a conversation in Amsterdam with a fellow game developer from Moscow who arrogantly asked me – Wow, you have game development on Ukraine (they say on Ukraine instead of in)? I thought that nothing is working there.

There is a racist name for each neighboring country to Russia. It’s totally acceptable for Russians to call Ukrainians – hohly, and Ukraine – hohland. But if you’ll use a similar slur on them, like – roosnya, or kacapy, they get offended for some reason.

There was even a racist classification during the Soviet era. Russians were 1st-grade citizens, Ukrainian and Belorussians 2nd grade, and Asian republics were 3rd grade. No wonder why Russia is underestimating the Ukrainian army and had plans to crush our country in 1 day.

Now I want to talk about Navalny, a so-called liberal, and the main anti-Putin opposition leader. During the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, which he supported, he called Georgian people “rodents” (грызуны) in his LiveJournal. Also, Navalny usually took part in “Russian march” (русский марш) — an extremely far-right meeting. I want to emphasize, Navalny is not a freak or marginal politician, he is the main opposition leader in Russia. And is currently imprisoned in Russia by Putin.

Also, I can not mention Maxim Martsinkevich an open neo-nazi who was a mainstream YouTuber and a popular media figure among Russian youth before he was arrested. But wait, I forgot, Russians are saving Ukraine from a neo-nazi government run by a Russian-speaking jew Zelenskyi. Got it.

Another point I want to bring is Russian imperialism. As Putin once said “The borders of Russia do not end” and this phrase explains the Russian mindset perfectly.

Although I was a teenager in 2008, I clearly remember the Russian attack on Georgia and how Russians were proud of their army on the internet. I remember how they laughed at the picture of nervous Saakashvili (democratically elected president of Georgia). There is even an article about it on Russian Wikipedia.

In 2014 after an occupation of Ukrainian Crimea by the Russian army, Putin’s rating of approval jumped to the historical maximum of 86%. They even had a popular saying “Crimea is ours” (Крым наш) which they used to brag about Russia’s power.

And the final one, which is small, but hits me personally. I’m a big fan of Paradox Development Studio games, and a few months ago I saw a screenshot of a tweet from one of their Russian employees. In the tweet he said that in Paradox office they have a Russian secret room with a picture attached. And on the picture there was a board with a hand-written map of Russia with, guess what? Yes, Crimea.

So those are the people who are living in Sweden, working in one of the top game dev companies and they still have a need to show that their homeland is a powerful empire that managed to take away a small peninsula (compared to Russia’s size) from a weaker neighbor. I can’t understand it. It wasn’t a big story, so Paradox Development Studio simply ignored it. But I remember.

And please don’t tell me about Russian propaganda. In Ukraine, before 2014, we had Russian tv channels, a pro-Russian president, and culturally we were fully integrated with Russia. But with all these, I can’t imagine Ukrainians supporting an offensive war on any country.

So to Russians, I can say that the time will come and you will pay for all of the pain you did to Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. You’ll pay for corrupting politicians and supporting dictators all over the globe. For bombing 🇸🇾Syria, for invading 🇬🇪Georgia. For bombing and suppressing free people of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. For creating and supporting Transnistria in 🇲🇩Moldova.

And I’m not even mentioning Soviet Union crimes which are responsible for millions of death and the spread of communism (which is equal to Nazism). Now is the time for the Empire of evil to fall.

But please don’t think that I’m saying that every Russian is like this. I know personally a few people with Russian roots who are great people, never supported aggression towards other countries, and now are giving money to the Ukrainian army. And there are probably millions of such people. So if you are one of those good Russians, I’m sorry if I offended you with my speech.

You can’t imagine how much I wish for a day to come when there is no Russia, no more war threats, no more people suffering. No more bullshit about civil war and nazis in Ukraine. So that I can spend all of my energy on what is important to me in life: making video games, writing and playing music, dreaming about space exploration, and enjoying the time that is left for me with the people I love.

I’m feeling ashamed that I’m hiding in a safe place abroad while our best men and women are risking their lives to protect Ukraine. But I promise I’ll do my best to rebuild our country and to make a positive impact on our culture. No matter how this war ends I’m proud of Ukrainians, we truly did our best.

If you want to support Ukrainian army financially please do so here –

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