If you’re from the USA, you know that our government has been shut down for two weeks now. If you’re from outside of the country, you might be ridiculing us. Which is okay, I guess. We have egg on our face. Our international standing aside, it is well known that the shutdown is having serious domestic impacts. These include the shuttering of the Office on Violence against Women (that petty, non-essential thing), a failure to fund Head Start, and delay or denial of survivor’s benefits to the families of fallen soldiers. So that’s, you know, awful.
I’ve written about the military re: geek stuff a fair amount lately. Put briefly, the military is using technology ostensibly reserved for video games to prevent active-duty and veteran suicides, and to combat the current military sexual assault epidemic. Video games are important to the lives of servicepersons for the aforementioned reasons, to say nothing of the fact that games are fun and that people like to play them.
There’s a photo going around the internet that suggests another repercussion of the government shutdown: a breakage of the link between soldiers (and sailors, marines, and airmen) and their video games. It is this image:
Purportedly taken from a store on a military base, the photo indicates that bureaucracy and the closing of non-essential programs have prevented the shipment of Pokémon X and Y to this store. This is unverified, and a little backtracking will take you to a Tumblr post 3 days ago. Hopefully, a little more detail will come in the next couple of days, probably in response to Kotaku’s or Go Nintendo’s coverage, and I’ll update this post.
Whether or not this is genuine, there’s a lesson here. A shutdown like this, especially as a reaction to laws regarding major policy, might represent a failure of civil society and our representative democracy. It’s detrimental to law enforcement, the safety of and provision for the most vulnerable members of our society. It also affects the little things we treasure, petty amusements that are nonetheless important to our lives, whether that’s good or bad. Frankly, I hope it’s fake, since I wouldn’t want any of our brave men and women to be unable to play the first game in four generations where the fire starter doesn’t evolve into a Fire/Fighting.
A reminder: Operation Supply Drop, a charity that delivers video games and gaming gear to servicepersons overseas and veterans in military hospitals will be hosting its second annual “8-Bit Salute to Veterans.” The 24-hour sponsored gaming marathon will aim to break last year’s high score of $58,000 in games, cash, and gaming supplies. If you’re interested in helping out, please check out OSD’s website here.