Have Some Humanity, Nerds: The Nintendo Direct Delay and the Earthquake in Japan
Fandom can be an interesting thing.
It can bring people together, unite culture, deliver concepts, bridge gaps, and promote an understanding of acceptance and identity formation. It can also lead to rabid and zealous supporters, the enforcement of outdated and archaic gender norms, pigeonholing, gatekeeping and apathy towards the struggles of the very creators of the content we love. Oftentimes in our thirst for information, our frenetic dash to gobble up any morsel of information, we forget about the human side to both these industries and the people around them. Such is the case with some Nintendo Fans crying foul at the delay of the Nintendo Direct that was scheduled for September 6, 2018. The thing is, there’s a very good—a very human—reason behind it.
On September 4, 2018, Typhoon Jebi decimated western Japan, leaving a trail of damage and decimation. According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency the tropical cyclone was the strongest to hit Japan’s mainland in 25 years. As of the time of this writing at least ten (10) people have died as a result.
Typhoon Jebi’s devastating winds rammed a 89-meter-long tanker into the bridge that linked Kansai Airport—one of the country’s largest airports—to the mainland. Associated storm surges also overran the runways at the airport. This naturally resulted in hundred of flights being cancelled, both on Tuesday 9/4 and Wednesday 9/5. In a small glimmer of fortune the eleven (11) crew members on-board the loose tanker remained uninjured.
Jebi’s damage did not end with the airport. Police reported that 187 cars caught fire in the chaos, likely a result of wires short-circuiting in the torrential rain. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency also reported that over 400 people were injured across 20 prefectures while more than 8,000 residents sought shelter in 1,667 evacuation shelters across 24 prefectures. The natural disasters would not end there though.
On September 5, 2018, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake his Hokkaido, killing multiple people, triggering dangerous landslides, causing widespread damage, and resulting in numerous power outages and injuries. The quake left the whole of Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture without power while aftershocks ravaged the terrain. Near the epicenter the landslides wiped out homes while across the prefecture at least 150 people have been reported as injured, according to an official with the Crisis Management Office of Hokkaido Prefecture Government.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated that at least nine (9) people had died as a result of the quake (original estimates put the number at 16 due to mistakenly counted those the suffered heart attacks). Electricity has been returned to about half of those who lost power as of the time of this writing. Still, the situation is grim as dozens are still missing and millions of households and business remain without electricity.
It is these dire circumstances, particularly the earthquake, that prompted Nintendo to delay their scheduled Direct. The Kyoto-based video game company took to Twitter to make a statement:
While this decision arguably came from a place of good intentions, it also had very real effects on publishers and developers who had crafted their marketing plan around this online presentation. As a result some odd announcements trickled out, including a surprise demo for Mega Man 11 on Switch last night that was likely meant to coincide with the Direct, as well as a peculiar reveal of turn-based strategy game Civilization VI coming to Switch via a statement of the website along with an embedded trailer that is not live. Clearly, these announcements are suffering from the lack of the accompanying glamor of the Direct but it is essential to note that in this case no company should be vilified.
Too often fans forget that our favorite creators do not exist in a void. They are very real people, in very real places, surrounded by very real circumstances. Even multinational companies like Nintendo occupy somewhere. It’s important for fans to understand that, at the end of the day, the actual human lives that exist around us matter far more than the fictional characters and media we hold dear, no matter how much we might cherish them. Nintendo’s indefinite delay of it’s Direct has certainly put stress of a lot of companies to planned an entire marketing cycle to culminate it or feature the presentation but that stress cannot be allowed to equal the dismissal of an entire country that has been rocked by numerous natural disasters this season.
No one can really blame Capcom or 2K Games for planning on an agreed-upon exposure and releasing information accordingly. Altering a marketing plan in motion is akin to stopping a semi on the highway with a banana peel; it just cannot be done. By the same token, though, Nintendo should not be shamed for withdrawing their plans in the face of an ecological catastrophe and a loss to human life.
In a modern world where micro-transactions, paid DLC on the game disc, loot boxes, and more increasingly turn ‘entertainment’ into ‘exploitation’ it is important to remember that their are humans at both ends of the creator-consumer spectrum. Some people are still missing in the Hokkaido prefecture and some families will never be reunited. We can wait for our gaming news, for as long as it takes. It’s the human thing to do.
Luckily, Nintendo’s September Direct was rescheduled on September 13, 2018 and aired at 6pm EST. A multitude of updates for the Switch were announced, including Animal Crossing for the Switch, the addition of NES games to Nintendo Switch Online, the introduction of cloud saves, and the inclusion of classic board games (in digital form) to the console. 3DS announcements were also prominent, including news of a co-op mode for Luigi’s Mansion and a port of the popular Wii platformer Kirby’s Epic Yarn known as Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, complete with new modes and abilities.
Watch the updates below: