A former World of Tanks developer, based in Ukraine, has urged the game’s publisher to use in-game messaging and news alerts to tell WoT’s thousands of Russian players the truth about President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In an impassioned LinkedIn post on Tuesday, ‘Vitaly T.’ (now Chief Technology Officer at private transport firm OPES JET) enjoins Wargaming to “open eyes for millions of people with just a small news article on your website or an in-app message”. “Ukrainians are dying, thousands are sitting in shelters”, he adds. “The lives of your employees, ex-employees, their kids, their friends are at risk.”
Vitaly T. acutely suggests many Russian players of Wargaming’s videogames will now have been pulled into the current war as recruits to Russian armed forces – and that the studio can and should act because of it. “Your players – young Russian boys in their twenties – are burned alive inside real tanks as invaders,” he says. “It is not glory for them, it’s a shame. And you can help the world stop this and shed the light on the truth.”
Wargaming is headquartered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus – a country with very strong political ties to the Russian Federation, whose government is one of only a handful worldwide to openly support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It also has Russian offices in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and a 550-strong office in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv – from which it says it’s devoting “all available company resources” to help evacuate all staff to “neighbouring contries”.
More images shared by Vitaly T. in the comments show devastated Ukrainian streets, wrecked battle tanks and armoured vehicles in flames, and a fire-ravaged apartment building Vitaly says is “just a couple of buildings from my home”.
“There are so many gamers, who live in an altered reality. They were deadly deceived by the dictator. They have the right to know the truth,” Vitaly says in another comment.
“Russian propaganda and disinformation should not be underestimated.”
Over the weekend, Wargaming says it fired its Creative Director Sergey Burkatovskiy for posting on social media in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Across the tabletop games and videogame industry, players big and small are making statements and taking actions to support Ukraine’s economy and people, and try to constrain Russia. Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov has also urged videogame giants to suspend Russian users’ accounts and close their Russian offices.