Game writer developer Leena van Deventer, who attended GDC this year, wrote on Twitter that “so much is improving for women in the games industry,” but despite that, “women at GDC this year have been belittled and undermined in their roles, been hit on relentlessly, and had their drinks spiked by predatory men. Two women were even lured up to a hotel room by a man in a position of power for a ‘pitch,’ where he then assaulted them.”

Kotaku reached out to van Deventer for comment.

A GDC representative provided Kotaku with a statement when asked about the alleged drink spiking at an off-site party and unwanted advances happening at the show and elsewhere:

We are very upset to hear that some people, especially women, reported concerning experiences during the GDC week at off-site events, including assault and drink spiking. This is outrageous and unacceptable; everyone has a right to feel safe. We severely condemn any such behavior and support the victims; we encourage reporting to the police and hope the perpetrators will be found. At the GDC event, we take everyone’s safety very seriously, we do our best to provide a secure environment on site, we enforce a strict code of conduct and make sure that the GDC team is available to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, to provide escorts, or to otherwise assist those experiencing unacceptable behavior to feel safe for the duration of the conference.


It’s important to note that, as others have suggested, this is not the first time women and women-presenting attendees have felt uncomfortable at a games industry event, nor will it likely be the last. Twitch ambassador Sam Seum alleged in an April 2022 Tweet that she was roofied at a PAX East 2020 party. An April 13, 2022 Tweet from a Twitch streamer who goes by Artie read, “I bought 150 kits for testing roofied drinks to take to PAX East and hand out. I’m so tired of people getting hurt and nothing being done.” And streamer Andy Pyro tweeted back in June 2020 that a friend of his was allegedly drugged after he drank a drink that was offered to a group of women they were hanging out with.

Unfortunately, in an industry that still bears the scars and ideologies of GamerGate, in a world where women’s bodies are consistently policed and politicked by men, this kind of shit will continue to happen. Widespread change is the only thing that will help women feel safe in this industry and beyond.


Update 3/27/2023 at 5:25 p.m. ET: This story was updated with a comment from the SFPD.

Update: 3/29/2023 at 9:25 a.m. ET: This story was updated to clarify who hosted the karaoke event.