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"The Joint Detention Group began providing electronic games to detainees in 2008 to provide mental stimulation as part of the overall mission to ensure humane treatment. As technology evolved, systems were upgraded from the Nintendo to the PS3 between 2011 and 2012."
- A statement to Waypoint from Joint Task Force director of public affairs Commander John Robinson about the history of electronic games made available to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Today the folks at Waypoint kicked off a week-long look at the intersection of games and incarceration with a really interesting account of the game library at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where a number of people have been detained without trial since the facility opened in 2002.
The article offers devs some perspective on what value games hold for people who are imprisoned for long periods of time, and how video games have reportedly come to be valued over board games for their variety.
It's also just a really good bit of first-hand reporting, as writer Muira McCammon builds upon her history of researching and reporting on war crimes as she relates her experience of touring the Guatanamo Bay Detainee Library which, based on photos, stocks a wide variety of PS3 games that inmates can play.
"They request the games just like a book. They can have up to ten in their possession to share with their communal bloc. Once they want to return the games, they can return them in exchange for one for one basis," an unnamed officer explains at one point.
"We're constantly trying to increase the amount of games that we have. Some of the games have to go through the screening process, just because of the material that they have in them. But if they are approved we are constantly trying to grow our inventory through games."
It's left a bit unclear how games make their way inside the facility in the first place; in a statement to Waypoint (excerpted above), Commander John Robinson with the Joint Task Force explains that "currently, both JDG [Joint Detention Group] Detainee Programs and individual detainee lawyers provide games to be used on consoles provided by the JDG."
You can (and should!) read the full article over on Waypoin for more on the state of the game library at Guantanamo, the somewhat mysterious disappearance of board games from the library, and how prisoners play and share games within the facility.