“Game Boys” Handed Out to NYC Inmates to Keep Them Busy During COVID-19

“Game Boys” Handed Out to NYC Inmates to Keep Them Busy During COVID-19

The New York City Department of Corrections buys 5500 handheld gaming consoles for the city's inmates to keep them occupied during the pandemic.

As much as we all have been struggling in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, at least most of us have had something to occupy our brains while the world sizzles outside. Whether it’s catching up on the long list of TV shows, books, or video games, we find ways to keep our minds distracted from the chaos. But due to prison’s implementing strict visitations from the outside world and also limiting inmates socializing together, the New York City Department of Corrections has gone out and bought 5500 handheld gaming consoles to occupy the city’s prisoners so they don’t go stir-crazy.

In a report by the New York Daily News, hundreds of bootleg Game Boys were purchased at a cost of $15 each – the grand total coming to $82,500 – on March 27 from Finesse Creations Inc. The knock-off consoles which most likely come with those pre-loaded “500 in 1” games have been handed out to 3800 prisoners still in detention at places like Rikers Island and other city jails. The “Game Boys” come in a variety of colors that include red, blue, and yellow and are loaded with a bunch of bootleg Nintendo/Capcom/Konami games – at least that’s what comes up when you Google similar products, but I wouldn’t advise buying any of these for yourself.

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This news comes after the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association settled a lawsuit with the city regarding a lack of masks and coronavirus testing locations for officers working in city jails. The city also agreed to dole out more hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and N95 masks to correction officers who are transporting people in custody with coronavirus, court documents show. As much as I love that people, regardless of their status, have the opportunity to play video games, I also think it’s vitally important that essential workers are taken care of first and foremost.

In April, we celebrated the Nintendo Game Boy’s 30th birthday. The boxy and simple handheld system first launched in Japan in 1989 and since then, this little pocket-rocket went on to sell well over 100 million units, allowing gamers all over the world the freedom to play their favorite games – including Tetris, Super Mario, and Pokémon. Having this new-found freedom meant that Game Boy owners could play whenever and wherever they wanted which completely revolutionized the video-game era. We also have seen an artist take a very different approach to the Game Boy by starting her own business called ‘Gameboy Planter’ where she lovingly fills old Game Boys with plants and adorable Pokemons.