In December 2014, Barack Obama and Raul Castro gave simultaneous speeches to their countries announcing that the United States of America and Cuba would, after decades, finally be normalizing relations. We jumped at the chance to see how video games exist, if at all, in the island nation that’s been, at least legally, so cut off from American cultural influence. We bring you LoreSabueso.
I’ve been a part of video games professionally for over 10 years having consumed them for nearly 30. Longer if you count holding a controller without it actually being attached. All of this consumption, thought, writing, reviewing and interviewing developers keeps my favorite digital entertainment on my mind constantly. But I’ve always come at it with a certain stance. A viewpoint that quite difficult to shake when you live in the United State of America. As the number one producer and consumer of the medium it’s always been a first world view. We make the biggest games, a vast majority of the money and, console peaks and valleys aside, generally dominate the market once held by the Japanese. Regardless of the whims of the console wars, we’re at the forefront. Cuba, which I’m heading to in a scant few hours, isn’t.
The country lacks Internet as we know it. I mean, the customs declaration form wanted me to declare porn. Why the heck would I have porn on me when I could stream it at any moment, like waiting for Fallout 4 to launch? Anyways, this means I’ve to adjust my expectations in all sorts of ways. American companies, by and large, still can’t do business in Cuba. That’s poised to change, and rapidly, but I wonder what it’s like today. The Cuban people haven’t had easy access to my favorite entertainment. Ever. I’m sure there’s plenty of bootlegged and contraband items out there. I expect MAME, roms, maybe even handhelds to be snuck in quite easily. But consoles, gaming PCs? Quite difficult and forget about it?
When I was in Morocco, easily a third-world country, games were to be found, but sparingly. That was without embargoes. Will my 3DS and one game or Nexus 5X with 5 games or iPad with maybe 3 games accessible sans Internet be of any interest to anyone besides me? What genres are they going to prefer? What type of setting? Certainly seems there’s plenty of interest despite the industry having little interest in the nation. I’ve heard that smartphones likely loaded with apps find their way to the island nation easily enough.
Time will tell. I think I should find a translator.