When I was interviewing Pavel Izotov, the maker of the Rebuild Ukraine mobile game, he paused multiple times to wipe tears from his eyes. That was very human and understandable, as he was making his game in the middle of a war zone.
Izotov lives with his wife Irina in central Ukraine in a city called Cherkasy. It has fortunately been spared much of the fighting that has devastated other parts of the country such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol. They have not evacuated from the city, but it has nevertheless been a terrifying place to work on a game.
In spite of that hardship, Izotov has succeeded in posting the Android game, which is all about rebuilding the country of Ukraine one building, landmark, and statue at a time. Proceeds from the ad-based title, published by PubRev+, will go toward humanitarian charities helping Ukrainians such as World Kitchen.
“Every step that we take is about how can we best serve Ukraine,” he said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I want to help my country, to help my people, and do everything that I can do.”
The title is but one of a myriad ways game companies are helping to assist Ukrainians disrupted by the war. Levvvel estimated gamers and game companies have donated more than $195 million to charities related to Ukraine, including $144 million donated by Epic Games and Fortnite players alone. And while Izotov’s contribution is a relatively small one in that big picture, not many people can say they helped under the same daily pressures and wartime conditions.
When the war broke out, Izotov was stunned and wanted to find some way to help. But he couldn’t join the military for health reasons. For the first week, the horrors of the war on the news so disturbing that Izotov couldn’t do any work. He and his wife spent time talking to friends in different parts of the country and following the news of the invasion. They knew people in multiple places that had become the center of the fighting. And they had friends who had become soldiers for the Ukrainian army.
“It has been really emotional. And we are talking with our neighbors about how, if the Russians come to our city, how we’re going to defend this,” Izotov said. “And some of my friends did leave the city.”
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