Military Recruiters Snag Underage Players at Halo 3 Launch Bash

September 26, 2007 -

It appears that America's Army isn't the only link to the gamer generation being pursued by military recruiters.

The New Hampshire Union-Leader reports on a Halo 3 launch event in Manchester in which under-17's were turned away from a local GameStop's Halo 2 tournament, only to be ushered into a similar event set up by nearby Air Force recruiters:

More than 100 gamers... gathered at the GameStop for a "Halo 3" release party... There was only one glitch... a "Halo 2" tournament was delayed after the chain store's district manager, Suzan Shockley, announced that nobody under 18 could participate.


"I'm sorry, but it's a company rule. We take the game ratings seriously," she said. ...Fortunately, the Air Force was on hand to save the day.


As co-sponsor of the gaming event, local Air Force recruiters were manning party central outside... where underage gamers who had fled the store in despair flocked for pizza, Mountain Dew and a chance to play "Halo 2" on a split screen from the back of a pimped-out military SUV...

Air Force recruiter Staff Sgt. Christopher Johnson explained the military presence at the Halo 3 launch:


This is going to be huge. We expect a big showing. We have the same demographic as [GameStop]. Our target market is identical to that of video game stores...

Johnson told the newspaper that an Air Force/GameStop tailgating bash arranged for the August Madden 08 launch netted two new recruits. Johnson added that he had not heard any objections to using video games to attract young people to the military. But New Hampshire Iraq war veteran Joe Turcotte disgreed:

The whole idea of serving your country out of patriotism gets lost. It cheapens the honor and sacrifice when you turn it into a video game. We are proud of our service to our country, but there's something about this that just doesn't seem right.


I would like to know if there's a disclaimer, if they're warning kids that their actual combat experience may vary. War is not a game.

Additional reaction to the Union-Leader story is expected. Michael Moore's website picked up the story, as did the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (both without comment, so far).


"Our target market is identical to that of video game"

While it's good to hear about the sucess of game ratings, I fear for how this will be spun by certain individuals. " Air Force wants psycho children hooked on killographic video games. This proves that games turn you into mindles killing machines

@Demontestament - They still couldn't enlist if they were underage. The recruiters just suggested it to them. They would still have, at least, 2 whole years after that experience to determine what they wanted to do with their lives.

Halo shouldn't be M-Rated anyway.

That is all.

well i for one can very well see your point, and don't place much blame on your brother-in-law's decision. Like most poeple who are not in the military, your brother in law doesn't have a full working knowledge of how the military works, so if he asks a military recruiter, a man who knows far more then most non-military poeple know and who we expect to tell you the absolute truth, a question about the military, we are going to assume that the recruiter is correct and that our own knowledge is wrong... This can be applyed to video games ratings aswell... many poeple THINK that movie rating are enforced by law, but when that ask someone who actually knows US laws, they find out that they are wrong and that movie ratings are not enforced... Unless your brother-in-law talks to someone else in the military, there is little reason for him to question the recruiter's answers.

It sounds like your brother-in-law joined with the full intent of serving on the defensive end of the military, and i assume that is what he told the recruiter something to that effect when he asked if their was a chance; by all means it was damn wrong for the recruiter to say their was "no chance", giving your brother-in-law false insurance... by all means, he should have said "yes their is a chance"

Yes, they were ignorant, but it was the recruiters who MADE them ignorant. The brother in law tried to make himself informed by asking someone with far better knowledge then himself, and his source for information wrongfully lied to him and gave him false knowledge. Why should he question the information he got from a military recruiter, why should assume that the recruiter is lying to him? i mean, if a police officer told you that your state has a law that you didn't know about, would you assume there is no law cause you never heard of it and that the officer is lying to you, or do you trust the officer?

Sorry, about that name stuff, still there on this computer from a post to jack a while ago.

Looks like the army and airforce are competing again.
Then again the air force has halo three.....

Someone create a game called "War" so the saying "War is not a game." can't be true anymore.

recruiters are lying filth.

that is all.

So, the military didn't enforce the rating system?
How can anyone expect the stores (and movie theatres while I'm at it) to enforce it when their government doesn't?
It's called leading by example.

I smell hypocrisy. "Games promote violence and are evil..."
"Games promote violence, which is great for the military!"

"I would like to know if there’s a disclaimer, if they’re warning kids that their actual combat experience may vary. War is not a game."

I can't believe how dumb people seem to think teens are. Granted, they do a lot of dumb things (as does everyone when they are learning how the world works) but the "games =/= real life" thing - I think that lesson comes between right between object permanence and learning not to crap yourself. I think they've got that down, thanks.

[...] Original post here [...]

I like how you can't buy a video game in this country if you're under 18 but you can sign up to potentially kill/be killed in real life.

Military Intelligence = oxymoron.

'nuff said.


NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

USA gov: "We must ban all games that are not about puppies and bunnies in fields of flowers!"
USA Military: "Quick lets let kids below the age limit play violent games in order to recruit them!"

the armys recruitment system needs some serious changes done to it.

There need to be charges filed and pressed. What they did is illegal.

@Lard - Sorry, nothing illegal took place. You can debate their morals, or lack there of, but they did nothing illegal since underage gaming is not legislated.

Also, this was the US Air Force, not the Army. Not that their recruiting tactics aren't similar, I'm just trying to keep details straight.

Honestly, if a person does not have their own convictions, willpower, and level head it's no wonder they are easily distracted and recruited with such tactics. I knew what I wanted to do since freshman year of high school. Game development was my dream and all I wanted to do, and I followed through. I know, I know. Some people don't know what they want to do before, during, or even after college.

The point is, if some mountain dew, pizza, and a quick game session convinces you to join a military organization...well, I'm actually at a loss for words. Maybe the veteran was right about the cheapening of the purpose for military enrollment.

I agree, War is not a game, there are no respawns if you die and such.

Honestly there is no reason to be pissed about this. they have done this stuff for years. the military is a business and they need people, and the air force seems like one of the safest of the military's three branches. but they do this in schools, conventions (any type), public events, anything. That is what they do. All because it is at something that is "new" doesn't make them bad people. they need to recruit people, so they go where the people are. if they didn't recruit people voluntarily, they would issue a draft.

So which one do you guys want? a recruiter who ASKS you to join and then doesn't bother you if you say no. or a letter in the mail saying you HAVE to join or you go to prison for 5 years minimum? I think I can put of with the recruiters, thanks.

"I agree, War is not a game, there are no respawns if you die and such."

inb4 FPS Doug references

"Air Force recruiter Staff Sgt. Christopher Johnson explained the military presence at the Halo 3 launch:"


Am I the only one who thinks it wasn't a coinicidence that they sent someone with THAT name there?

"Hmm, now where did that restart button go? im not liking this hole in my foot..." Is that what they think us gamers think? Honestly, we should know that war and death in real life is permanent. Just because we watch fantasies and play them, dont mean we think their real. Not gonna run up to barney and think hes a real dinosaur, not gonna think a game is real. We are not idiots in most cases.

"Honestly there is no reason to be pissed about this. they have done this stuff for years. the military is a business and they need people, and the air force seems like one of the safest of the military’s three branches."

That doesn't make it right. The fact that they've been doing it for so long makes it worse.

@GameDevMich: Actually, since Halo 2 is an M rated game, wouldn't that make it illegal?


No, because that is NOT a law. Think of those child games, say, "Between ages of 3-10" for example. And adult using it isn't illegal, and the vice versa is true with games. A 15-year old playing Halo 3 isn't illegal due to there are no laws about it.

All those complaining that the military is using video games to recruit, get over yourself. You're wrong, it's not immoral, and definitely not illegal. If the people sign up, they can only do so on their own if they are 18, if not they still need to have written permission from parents to join, or else they have to wait until they are 18 and do it themselves. The military will recruit and they are not forcing anyone into service. They are taking volunteers. Go back to the beginning of our country and you will see shady recruitment techniques, like getting people to sign a paper saying they can get some free beer, and not telling them that the small print is putting them into military service.
And their needs be no disclaimer about what happens in military service, just turn on a TV at 5 oclock and these kids can see the "unglamorous" side of the military service. Can't go a day without hearing about all the wrongs our military does, and all those who die, and the horrible scandals with military hospitals. If they want to say, "hey come play some games, and the only stipulation is we want to show you what the military has to offer", what is the problem?
They aren't saying your gonna get to be Master Chief, or you will fight off alien invaders. I don't understand why people get so up in arms about it.

I meant "an adult" >.

@Lard: Game Ratings are suggestions that may or may not be enforced by retailers. They aren't subject to being legal/illegal.

But on to the topic - As a member of the Air Force and a gamer, I don't really see too much of a problem here. The military recruits people, and doesn't force them in doing so. Sure, we provide incentives for people who join, but we don't make them do it. They need people, and they're willing to try different tactics in attracting people. It's like retailers doing sales and such in order to get more people to purchase items at their store, to some extent. You have to be 18 to join the military as an enlisted member (or 17, with parental consent), and thus, the people who went to play the games that were underage were not subject to enlistment, only given the opportunity to think about it as an option for the future.

(Note: I wasn't recruited. I went to college on scholarship and commissioned as an officer.)

We need an edit button; the rest of my message disappeared. Bleh, screw it. I said enough.

"All those complaining that the military is using video games to recruit, get over yourself. You’re wrong, it’s not immoral, and definitely not illegal. "
@rdeegvainl: I don't see you signing up - hypocrite.


Fine then, I'll say it.

All those complaining that the military is using video games to recruit, get over yourself. You’re wrong, it’s not immoral, and definitely not illegal.

@Josh Martz :Game Ratings are suggestions that may or may not be enforced by retailers. They aren’t subject to being legal/illegal."

Considering 80% of the hullabaloo from politiciains is that M rated games are being marketed to minors, they most certainly are.

@ Josh :All those complaining that the military is using video games to recruit, get over yourself. You’re wrong, it’s not immoral, and definitely not illegal

So if you have a 12 year old, you'll let him sign up for the military?

Regardless of what the politicians are saying, it's still not a LAW. They are just saying that they're irritated that no one takes the time to enforce this rating.

Double post:

@Lard - Please read my post again. The minimum age for enlistment is 17, with parental consent, and 18, without. If I have a child that wants to join the military at 18, that's his choice. I will provide suggestions to him, maybe encourage him to go to college first, but ultimately, at 18, it is up to him.

Right. The problem is they're targeting *under* 17s.

Which, if not illegal, should be.

Don't call me a Hypocrite
You know nothing about me, but let me tell you a little something about me.
I am a Marine Corporal, I am currently deployed and away from my wife and family, to defend the rights of people to live safely. I am here working day in and out, making sure others don't have to fear being killed because of their ancestry, that they can go to sleep without wondering if people are gonna drive down their streets and kill them while they sleep. So before you want to presume something about me, STFU

I think it's kind of painting a silly image of military life, but it's up to the Army how they go about recruiting, however, theres one thought that does occur to me:

Driving around in an SUV inviting children into the back to play Video Games for the basis of achieving an ulterior motive (in this case, enrolling the kids into the Army ideals) doesn't project the best image of the Army, what's next, getting some puppies?

That said, the Army have been using this technique for years with things like the Scouts and Boys Brigade (in the UK) which were intially used as recruitment zones for the British Armed Forces.

I don't see kids rushing to enrol in the Army because they think that it's like Halo, and anyone who did would probably bail out within 6 months of training, but engaging with Children has been the role of Army Recuiters for years.


Suuuuuuuuuuuuure you are. A Marine Corporal that says STFU and hangs out on a gaming site.

@Lard: So what? Are you assuming that gamers don't have a brain?

Even if they went up to a 12 year old and gave him some pamphlets and such, he still would have to wait 6 years to make a decision. And given the attention spans of most 12 year olds, I wouldn't worry too much about it. If the kids don't want to sign up for the military, they don't have to. There's no draft, what the recruiters are doing isn't brainwashing, the children have plenty of chances to decide what they want to do.

Now your just being a troll. Glad to know there are still people as retarded as you.

maybe this lard fellow is really Jack Thompson, seems to have the same ideals.

I think Lard needs a wall-to-wall counseling.


Because soldiers can't be gamers? Idiot.

@rdeegvainl - Be safe in your journey and I hope you return home safely to your family.

@Lard - Regardless if you are just trolling, or you truly are uninformed, I will repeat what the others have said for the sake of repeating it:

Just as it is with movies and music, a person (be it a retailer, recruiter, parent or a complete stranger) can NOT be prosecuted for selling an entertainment product to a person under the specified age limit. A retailer who provides an R rated movie to a 12 year, or sells an M rated game to a 6 year can certainly be chastised by the public for circumventing the rating systems. They will most likely be fired by their superiors as well.

Further more, as mentioned by those with direct experience with the military and other posters who know a little more about the law and recruiting process than you, military establishments will advertise and talk to minors but they will not allow someone to enlist until they are 18.

Correction, MARINES can't be gamers is what he's saying, we aren't called soldiers. LOL
I guess he also doesn't think that marines could be interested in the first amendment issues that legislation and politics dealing with games would inevitable bring up.
I mean I only am here to protect the American Ideals, not have any interest in what they actually are, or exercise them myself.
/End Sarcasm

"@Lard: So what? Are you assuming that gamers don’t have a brain?"

No, just assuming the army (or in this case, the air force) doesn't have morals. Looks like I'm right on both counts.


Sorry bout that :)

Good luck, we all appreciate what you're doing.


You're a fuckwit.

LOL, someone doesn't agree with you doesn't have morals... that's a good one. You are very entertaining now that we know you are just trolling

@ "Corporal" rdeegvainl: "someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t have morals"

That's not what I said, don't put words in my mouth.

The kind of people that would target kids and brainwash them with this garbage when they're too young to know better makes them no different than child molesters.
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