TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gaming charity organization Awesome Games Done Quick has canceled its planned in-person event in Florida and moved the September gaming marathon online, citing Florida policies and stances on LGBTQ rights and laws, as well as its anti-COVID-19 vaccination policy.
In a statement put on the Games Done Quick site Thursday, the organization specifically refers to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, House Bill 1557, for making the state no longer “a safe place” for the charity’s community.
The speedrun charity gaming marathon is where players compete to finish video games as quickly as possible. Past events have funded Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation, among others.
Addressing the cancellation for their 2023 Florida event, GDQ said in part, “Given the state’s continued disregard for COVID-19’s dangers (including anti-mandate vaccination policies) and an increased aggression towards LGBTQ+ individuals, including the law colloquially known as ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ we do not believe it is a safe place for our community at this time.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Games Done Quick moved to an online, virtual format, putting a planned 2021 Florida event on hiatus.
“Immediately after the success of AGDQ 2020, we secured a contract with a venue in Florida to return in 2021,” GDQ said in their statement about the cancellation. “Since the global pandemic was declared, we postponed in-person events until it was safe to return.”
Instead of returning to that format, the organization will move the gaming marathon and charity drive online, due to the state’s political stances on LGBTQ rights and COVID-19 mandates. The scheduled September event would have been the first in-person event since the pandemic’s start. Funding from the event will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation, according to GDQ.
The semiannual event has been held since 2010, incorporating as an official company, Games Done Quick, LLC since 2015. The events they host typically last a week, in addition to other smaller events throughout the year to raise money for a variety of charities.
GDQ says they are “currently the largest fundraising event globally,” for both of the charities they’ve supported. To date, GDQ’s donation tracker reports they’ve raised more than $41.16 million for charity since their start, with thousands of event attendees.
WFLA.com has reached out to Games Done Quick, asking for further comment on the possibility of future Florida events.