Wednesday, October 21, 2009

U.S. Military Targeting Gamers

Recently, I lost a good friend and fellow gamer to the conflict in Afghanistan. He was far too great a guy and far too young at 21 to be taken from us. It made me sit and reflect more about the fact that it seems like a much higher percentage of the gamer population vs. general population ends up in the military. There are many things that could account for this, but one fact that I've discovered is that the United States Military is heavily targeting gamers for recruitment.

For years the military has had TV commercials targeting gamers by equating the games they play and their fantasies to life in the military. Just like the video below.


Commercial directly targeting video gamers

In July of 2002 the U.S. Army launched "America's Army: Special Forces" a free video game specifically designed to influence and recruit young gamers into the armed forces. Millions of people have downloaded this game to date. The free game comes with sacrificed privacy. The military tracks and stores game statitistics on each user. Avid players that do very well are even sent e-mails asking if they wish for more information on the Army.


Trailer for the Game America's Army: Special Forces

The last recruitment tool I will mention is the Virtual Army Experience. VAE is a mobile exhibit with a lifesize version of America's Army video game. To be able to participate individual's must give their personal information to recruiters. After a mock briefing, game participants sit in replicas of army vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters shooting game automatic weapons at 180 degree screens.


Wall Street Journal Report on the Virtual Army Experience

Ironically enough these gaming experiences are even less realistic then the plethora of military games on the market. While the military claims to be giving gamers a "real" experience they are only showing the side of war they want participants to see.

Please don't get me wrong. I have great respect for those who join the military. I recognize that our country needs an armed forces. I just strongly believe that the military shouldn't sugar coat military life with inaccurate and flashy depictions of war. I greatly worry for my fellow gamers that have joined the armed forces for adventure.

For those that are out there already, my prayers are with you every day. For one soldier I held dear his adventure is over. Rest in Peace, James, we miss you dearly.

My thanks to the following sites for information:

The Kool Skool Blog

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