The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
If you didn't know, the month of May is regarded by some as
Military Appreciation Month and has a number of special days set aside to
recognize those who serve or have served...and the families who support them. Now
I realize not everybody is a fan of the military and there are plenty with different
political persuasions who think we waste far too much money on the defense of
this great nation. I can respect that and am in no way trying to change your
mind. But I did want to devote tonight's blog to this subject and mention a few
of the good deeds the video game industry is participating in to support those
wearing the uniform. If you're not interested, you're not interested.
Besides the handful of companies with special events planned
with or for the military, perhaps the two biggest iniatives are Operation
Supply Drop and 8-Bit Salute.
Operation Supply Drop
(OSD) is a military gaming 501(c)(3) charity designed to build video game
filled care packages for soldiers (America and Her Allies) both deployed
forward to combat zones as well as those recovering in military hospitals.
OSD was created as a
way for Captain Stephen Machuga to support the troops with his love of video
gaming. Founded in 2010 after having worked with other charity efforts, Captain
Machuga's first supply drop to the troops was to none other than his driver
from Iraq, Geoff, who had re-enlisted and been sent to Afghanistan. Captain
Machuga reached out to his contacts within the games industry to get some
support, where he received his first real donation of games from Activision's
social media manager Dan "One of Swords" Amrich. It was this bounty
of Guitar Hero bundles and games that really got the charity off the ground,
not only giving him a small inventory to work with, but the confidence to go to
other developers and publishers and ask for games and gear on behalf of the
military. Word quickly spread that some crazy Captain was sending thousands of
dollars in video games to soldiers as long as you could prove you were in a
combat zone, and things have been on an upward trajectory ever since having
served over 2,500 individual troops and raising nearly $700,000 since
inception. (SOURCE: Operation
I can tell you first hand - there are many military
personnel who are gamers. All branches. All ranks. Some of them walk among us
at Game Informer Online. Some are serving and have served. They are no
different than you and I. They don't want any special recognition or attention.
They are just gamers. They just want to play and have fun.
I could tell you dozens of stories about the close knit
relationship between the military and video games, but the one that has always
stood out in my mind was kind of a wake-up call and highlights why programs
like Operation Supply Drop go a long way in improving the morale of our troops.
I was sitting out in the blazing hot sun on the tarmac of
Baghdad International Airport. I and a few others were waiting for a C-17 to
arrive to take us back home. There was a platoon of soldiers hanging out
waiting for transportation. They had just arrived in country. Two of these soldiers
were talking and I wasn't paying much attention until I heard one of them
mention Call of Duty. My ears perked up and I couldn't help but eavesdrop on their conversation. Apparently one of the soldiers had played the newest
release and was telling the other about the experience. That's when the soldier
who hadn't played the game said this was his third deployment in four years and
he hadn't been able to keep up with the newest video game releases.
Third deployment in four years.
That might not mean much to the average person so I'll add a
little bit of clarification. This was a young kid...probably early to mid-20's. My
guess is he joined right out of high school when he was 18 or 19. Deployments
vary in length and depend on the branch you serve in. I'm not making jokes
about one branch or the other, but in my experience, the Air Force
deployments were about 3 to 6 months in length, and the Army's deployments were
about 9 to 12 months in length. Us Navy pukes were somewhere in the middle. So,
in four years...this young kid spent most of his adult life rotating between
Iraq, Afghanistan and back to Iraq - with a brief trip back to the United
States in between deployments, a few months at a time.
Now, the thing was...he wasn't complaining. It wasn't a woe as
me attitude. It was just a matter of fact. And he was truly excited hearing the
details about the latest Call of Duty video game from his battle buddy. The sad thing was, this kind of story was not uncommon. I heard several similar testimonies just like this one.
I'll always remember that guy. I often wonder whatever
happened to him and where he ended up...and whether he is excited about the new
Call of Duty or if he's stuck in a FOB somewhere in the middle of nowhere on his eight or ninth
A lot of the games donated by organizations like Operation
Supply Drop end up in the hands of military servicemen and women like this guy.
And they appreciate it...more than most of us will ever know.
Anyway...in conjunction with Operation Supply Drop, there is
an initiative much like the Child's Play charity drive. This one is called
Since 2010, thousands
of gamers have joined forces to take part in 8-Bit Salute to show their support
for the fighting men and women of the United States military and her allies by
doing what they love: playing video games. For 24 straight hours, the community
of supporters around Operation Supply Drop to raise both funds and awareness
for the military gaming charity so we can continue our mission of getting video
games to the troops deployed to combat zones through our "supply drops" and
more events at military hospitals and bases.
To join us, you need
only sign up to create your own team, then go out and gather the support of
your friends and family through tax-deductible donations. 8-Bit Salute is all
day on Saturday, May 17 through Sunday, May 18th, but we understand if life gets
in the way and you can't be a part that day. Have no fear: not only will there
be an organized make-up date the next weekend on Saturday, May 24th, but in all
actuality, you can really do the event any time you'd like (we'll keep that
classified)! Then it's just a matter of grabbing a seat in your favorite chair,
getting your favorite pizza place on speed dial, and finally grinding through
that backlog of games that you've been promising to play through over the last
year for as long as you can keep your eyes open!
If you're interested in checking it out and seeing who some
of the top team contributors are, you can find the details here:
Annual 8-Bit Salute
I know there are a couple of industry folks getting behind
this...and will be streaming some of the marathon gaming sessions. I hope to be a
part of one myself but we'll see how that goes.
In closing, I don't want to name names and put them on the
spot...but I do know several Game Informer Online members who have served their
country proudly...and I want to thank you all for your service. I'm honored to call you
friends and salute your sacrifices.