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STALKER 2 devs close Xbox showcase with harrowing look at Ukraine conflict

A cake featuring GSC Game World's logo.
(Image credit: GSC Game World)

During the conclusion of the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 14, developers at GSC Game World — the Ukrainian studio creating the Xbox console launch exclusive STALKER 2 — shared a troubling account of their experience living and working amidst the war in Ukraine. From images of bombed structures less than a mile away from GSC's office to interviews with employees staying within cramped makeshift shelters for safety, the video shows just how devastating Russia's continued war with Ukraine has been for the studio and all of the country's citizens.

When the conflict began in late February, many of GSC Game World's developers had to evacuate their homes and flee to safety to escape the imminent threat of Russian shelling and air raids. Members of the studio that weren't able to leave have been forced to work and live out of basements and off of bathroom floors — anywhere that's as safe from incoming attacks as possible. For some, sprinting to the nearest bomb shelter is part of a daily routine. Sirens blare constantly as Russian attacks continue to ravage homes.

"For three months, I live and work in this corridor," said STALKER 2 narrative designer Dariia Tsepkova. "A one-eyed dog, rescued from the shelling under Hostomel, lives with me. It's not easy to write violent quests when there's a war outside your window."

Developers have also stepped up to perform volunteer work, helping their neighbors and other people in their community survive the conflict. Some have even joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, bravely fighting against the Russian invaders and defending their homeland. "I never imagined a war in Europe in the 21st century," said lead AI developer Dmytro Iassenev, dressed in full military gear while standing behind a machine gun emplacement. "We'll see you at release."

One developer, an animator named Oleksandr Levchenko, has not been able to contact his family for months. "Since the start of the war, I've had no contact with my parents," he said. "It is an indescribable horrible feeling, not knowing whether your loved ones are alive."

It was a harrowing video, but it was also one that was important for people to see, and we applaud Microsoft and Xbox for allowing the developers of GSC Game World to share their experiences during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase. If you'd like to support the people of Ukraine, GSC Game World recommends making a donation to the United24 initiative. Contributions will go towards defense, demining, medical aid, and rebuilding efforts.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.