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More Stories of How Obamacare Has Affected Game Developers

And how, if it’s repealed, greater hardships await them in their professional and personal lives.

Above: Hyper Light Drifter image courtesy of Heart Machine

Earlier this week, we ran a story on how the Affordable Care Act has impacted game developers since its signing into law in 2010, as well as what fears they have with the potential for its repeal on the horizon.

Over the course of our research, numerous game developers reached out to tell us of their incredible experiences and concerns for the future. Indeed, we heard from so many that we couldn't fit all of their stories into our original story

Here, we've collected quotes from these developers to help readers better understand the voices of people like those featured in our original reporting, and what they think the future holds for them.


"While the ACA may have many flaws—it's messy, has compromises that affect doctors and hospitals in negative ways, and parts of the population have seen rising premium costs instead of shrinking ones—the fact remains that it has managed to bring life-saving, affordable healthcare to millions of Americans who had absolutely no access before, including myself.

"The ACA has saved my life several times over. I have multiple pre-existing conditions, including a serious congenital heart defect, and before the act became law, I had no way of getting insured. This is due to the fact that insurance companies would not cover pre-existing conditions, which is a backwards and insane policy.

"There was a high-risk pool in my state (California), but that was so far outside of my financial reach it may as well have never existed. The only other option for coverage to bypass that rule was full-time employment. However, due to my debilitating illnesses at the time, that too was only a fantasy.

"The future of healthcare in America is now seriously uncertain, especially for those most in need. This leaves many of us and those that we care about scared for our ability to simply stay alive."

Alx Preston, Heart Machine (developers of Hyper Light Drifter


"I'm a black woman game developer on Medicaid thanks to the Affordable Care Act. There were no other options available to me. I was hospitalized for three days in 2013 with a stomach bacteria that could have killed me if left untreated. Paranoid about the hospital bill, I convinced the doctor to let me out earlier than he would have liked. I later qualified for Medicaid in 2014 and was able to pay off the bill from the previous year. The Affordable Care Act is invaluable to me.

"Developers are likely going to be using services like GoFundMe, and possibly increasing the projected budgets of their crowdfunding campaigns to help cover healthcare costs. If the ACA is repealed, I suspect many will try to power through without it, but will ultimately have to give up."

Ciara Burkett, developer


"My wife is a two-time cancer survivor with ongoing care, so there's no way I could have started this company and created Storium without the ACA, both in terms of pre-existing conditions and expense."

Stephen Hood, co-founder and CEO of Storium 

'Chambara' screenshot courtesy of team ok.

"If programs like California's Medi-Cal get undercut, independent creators like my friends and I will be endangered as they lose access to health insurance falling within their limited budgets. Many of us have to deal with student loans and other expenses, and affordable insurance independent of employment helps us cope with that.

"The Affordable Care Act, flawed though it may be, gives us greater confidence to make work unique to our voices without the fear of being in perpetual peril should we get sick or injured."

Kevin Wong, project lead on Chambara 


"As things stand, neither my partner nor I can afford to live together and start a family, and losing access to affordable healthcare will only make that goal even less attainable."

Alice Grunstra, works in quality assurance

Related, on Waypoint: Game Developers March on Washington to Protest Trump 

"I'm lucky enough to live in a state (Washingston) that took federal money for Medicaid expansion, and even with my poverty-level low income I was able to go to the dentist for the first time in five years. There's nothing weirder than being excited to go to the dentist because you know it won't cost you hundreds of dollars you don't have."

Seth Boyer, composer


"I have been contracting for the past two years, working on smaller games, but because I won't be able to get health insurance on my own once the repeal goes through, I am going to disappear into a larger company. Losing the ACA is going to directly affect the size of games that I can afford to work on."

Jonathan Brodsky, contractor, programmer on Beasts of Balance 

'Where the Water Tastes Like Wine' screenshot courtesy of Dim Bulb

"I have a lot of problems with the law, but it's entirely a positive force on my ability to get the care I need as someone without full-time employment."

Johnnemann Nordhagen, founder of Dim Bulb (Where the Water Tastes Like Wine), co-founder of Fullbright (Gone Home)


"Most game devs are fairly like-minded when it comes to finding practical solutions. It's not really in our DNA to look at a situation like this and not see how crazy it sounds. Game development is an ongoing series of finding solutions, fixing problems, iterating and improving. Most of the ideas we're hearing, like repealing the ACA, seem completely antithetical to that process. Not to mention, totally compassionless.

"The topic has certainly come up about leaving the US, depending on what happens in 2017. That's not an easy conversation, but we're naive if we don't start thinking about it."  

Dren McDonald, freelance sound designer/composer


"I'm pretty terrified of the repeal because I have monthly infusions that are covered under the ACA and I genuinely don't know how I'm going to be able to afford them should it be repealed.

"ACA helped me afford my resectioning surgery. I'm still able to make games now because my Crohn's disease is fairly well managed; but if I can't pay for my infusions I run the risk of having to go into a hospice for fairly extended stays, that might be too costly for me to even continue doing what I love to do."

Joe Dolan, programmer

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