By Harold Goldberg
In our opening video for the 11th New York Game Awards, game people from the world over spoke about dealing with the pandemic. That video included a segment from Ukranian game executive Elena Lobova. Three weeks later, Russia began its terrible siege of the Ukraine. and Elena Lobova, like so many millions, had to pack up a suitcase of her important belongings in Kyiv and leave her mother country. This is Elena’s story, who’s just arrived in Slovakia. It’s about bravery and courage, about how she left and how she got out, and what she will do now that she’s left.
The young, successful game executive was forced to leave Kyiv and face the dangers of war because of the Russian invasion: the bombings, the gunfire, all the horrors that come with violent conflict. Yet it’s every Ukranian’s story as well, one of toughness of a country’s people against all odds. If you remember that photograph of a man trying to stop a Russian tank with his body, that was her close friend’s father. In the video above, Elena chronicles her journey out of the country, unable to get through various borders, avoiding the dangers of night, then days later, getting through at the Moldova border. Right now, she’s dedicated her life to helping her people. (If you want to help, she and her industry friends created a Google doc that shows how.)
Also, this is the second time Elena has had to leave her home with one suitcase. The game dev studio for which she was COO in Lugansk was bombed by Russians in 2014. It burned to the ground..
Here’s just a small portion of her story on social media: “Sorry for the radio silence, everyone. In the last few days, I was either in the shelter or on the road. Finally, after almost 5 days of driving, I’m in a safe place, outside of Ukraine. Unfortunately, some of my close people are still there, either defending our country or hiding in shelters. I pray for them to be safe. My main priority for the near future will be helping my country in any possible way, e.g. helping refugees with relocation, raising donations for the soldiers ammunition etc.”
Here at the New York Videogame Critics Circle, we’ve made it our mission to help the underserved. Right now, there is no people more underserved than the Ukranian people. We are honored to have Elena Lobova tell her story of hope amid disaster.