TinyBuild Staff Support Russian Invasion Plans for Ukraine | Pocket Gamer.biz

Alex Nichiporchik is CEO of tinyBuild.

I think of a story my late grandfather told me. How, when World War II broke out, he took his wife, their three children and a cow to the deep swamps and forests of the Brest region of Belarus. They ended up having eight children in total.

Meanwhile, my other grandfather was 17 and fighting at the front. I clearly remember that they both wished that I would never have to go through something like what they had gone through.


In November 2013, we were in Kyiv at DevGAMM – at the time the biggest video game development event in the region – where I was moderating a panel discussion. Suddenly we heard explosions and gunshots. It was the start of the Maidan Revolution, also known as the Dignity Revolution.

We have direct experience of shit hitting the fan.

This is one of the main reasons I always have an emergency bag packed and stowed: meds, money, protein bars, weapons and basic riot gear.

On January 20, tinyBuild held an emergency meeting to come up with a plan: cover everything until the worst case. Most of our plans were based on a less severe scenario, where airspace would not be closed: who goes where, and planes organized to transport people. Unfortunately, we are in the worst case, with the bombing of airports and critical infrastructure.

In this event, it is a bet on what is safer: to leave or to abstain.

We have direct experience of shit hitting the fan.

Quit means cars. Fuel becomes the most important resource: we are talking about a full tank AND twice that in cans. It takes up a lot of space. You need to have enough water and basic protein with you. All that weight reduces your range. You also have to take into account the panic on the roads. It’s a dead end all the way. Everyone rushes west, mainly to Lviv.

We considered meeting people in Lviv by renting apartments and setting up one of the studio offices in a makeshift campsite.

The other option of waiting is tricky. You must have a safe location, away from the path likely to be taken by the military and away from critical infrastructure. You should be prepared by stocking up on non-perishable food, money, water, and camping gear for cooking, such as gas burners.

You have to anticipate: if the building has no utilities, how could you survive two weeks in such a situation? You should have rice, canned food, water, gas, wet wipes, medicine and a “travel bag” that you can just grab and run in case of an evacuation emergency critical.

You look like a paranoid moron

All of this takes a lot of planning. When you start explaining it to your colleagues, you sound like a paranoid moron.

I believe it is important to be as pragmatic as possible in situations like this. If you’re going to expend energy on social media on the subject, go ahead and seek out factual and useful information – the breakdown isn’t going to help anyone. Which country supports refugees? What are the escape routes? People are stressed; share ideas on stress management. Whatever you do, make it useful. Focus your energy on helping your colleagues.

I provided full financial support to team leaders in Ukraine and to support their colleagues safely.

We have a central group that coordinates the relocation.

In anticipation of these events, we prepaid everyone, including our Russian colleagues, as we believed they risked being cut off from the SWIFT banking system.

Encourage the UK and other governments to create a simplified GAMEDEV-VISA procedure.

I have authorized a global relocation budget for everyone in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and we are ready to meet everyone who can go to the EU in Latvia or the Netherlands, where we have offices and accommodations.

For those unable to travel to the EU due to visas, we have been working on alternative options.

If you can do anything

It is very important to understand – without disrespect – that people in the West have always had the privilege of traveling for free. Most people from Eastern Europe, myself included, need visas to visit most places.

Only a few years ago, Ukrainians were allowed to travel visa-free to the EU. Our colleagues from other countries cannot simply travel to the EU, US or UK. This is a major logistical and legal challenge we face.

So, if you can do anything, highlight the problem of travel. Encourage the UK and other governments to create a simplified GAMEDEV-VISA procedure.

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