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).


Regardless of recruiting practices, they were 17. M ratings are for 17+ the real issue (And I ran into this yesterday at a Gamestop while talking to the people behind the counter) is that Gamestop policy is says they cannot sell M rated to anyone under 18. The fact that the rating says 17+ doesn't matter to them. Here you have a difference between the ESRB (which is suggested, not law) and the corporate policy of a store.

And I say we should lower the drinking age to 18. If you're old enough to vote and die for your country you might as well be able to drink. These days you need to be drunk to vote for our politicians anyway.

(For the record I passed 17 over a decade ago.)

@Lard - By your exact statement, you would also mean: cartoons, commercials, billboards, salesmen, the guy in the food court that hands out free samples, TV shows, movie producers/directors/actors, and Fox News (sorry, had to throw it in :) )

Or did I misinterpret what you said?

Ah yes, the military has no morals. That makes perfect sense. You know that the military is the one place in America where adultery is a crime? Just a for instance.

I see no lack of morals here. The recruiters know what people like to do. In order to attract said people, they utilize that knowledge. If you wanted to date a girl, and you knew she liked roses, and you got her roses, then you might have more of a chance. Same thing. The girl doesn't have to date you, and these men and women don't have to join the military.

Besides, I'm sure plenty of those people just wanted to play Halo 2. Like I go to Sam's Club to get free samples without actually purchasing anything. :)

And Lard, saying a 17 year old is to young to know better is asinine. You can be charged as an adult for crimes commited when you are 17. The courts seem to disagree with you on that point. And since I'm bringing it up, if the courts can do that (And yes, they can) then why can't a 17 year old buy an AO game? If the law says "We can decide if they're adults or not" isn't that a bit hypocritical?

"If you wanted to date a girl, and you knew she liked roses, and you got her roses, then you might have more of a chance"

The girl doesn't shoot you if you don't get her roses.

Depends on who you're dating. Ever date a redhead?

I need to hurry up and get deployed with my unit so I can make fun of Lard from Iraq. :P

"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."

- Right...yet again, not brainwashing. Please use your brain at some point in this discussion.

"The girl doesn’t shoot you if you don’t get her roses."

I don't see your analogy. In MY analogy, the girl was the recruitee and the guy was the recruiter. I'm pretty sure the underage kids weren't going to shoot the recruiters.


Okay, then the guy doesn't whisk the girl off to a foreign land, deprive her of sleep, put her in a position where she'll get shot at and confine her to a base 24 hours a day.

"The girl doesn’t shoot you if you don’t get her roses."
can you explain how that fits in at all? or are you just shooting off words as fast as you can think of them?
the girl in the analogy would be the kids, and the roses equate to the video games. So what are you saying with that statement?

Hm...if only we had a military recruitment system that was based on willful enlistment rather than a draft...
...Wait a minute...we do!

@Eville1 - A 17 year old can't by an AO because console manufacturers don't license AO games on their systems, big retailers refuse to carry them, leaving only internet distribution. There are so few AO games that the purpose of the rating alone is asinine


You're forgetting that the recruitees know this before joining. You'd have to be a complete idiot not to know that going into Iraq isn't going to be puppies and fun.


No, but when you sign up for the Military you KNOW what you're getting in to. Even if you choose not to believe it or gloss over it. The military doesn't give you a beany baby and tuck you in. Come on now, make some sense here man.

@Josh Martz
"I need to hurry up and get deployed with my unit so I can make fun of Lard from Iraq."

Im sorry, but unless you have experienced a real war already, when they strap a m4 onto you and throw you in middle of desert where you see bunch of people blow their heads up, you're gonna shit your pants.

but maybe the girl gets married if she accepts this offer and then going through a logical following, it eventually so happens that she gets pregnant and is put through much misery just to bare children. i think that would be a great comparison to the iraq situation, pain suffering and even death in some occasions, but it was agreed to by the woman. the woman went into the situation knowing that was a possible outcome.

I'm not worried. I train on real weapons, not video games. Sure, there will be a bit some shock, and I can't prepare wholly for that. I joined the military knowing full well what I was getting myself into. I could die, my friends could die, or I could come back missing limbs and such. Honestly, if you aren't scared about that, you're an idiot. But you go out, you do your job, and what will be will be. I resigned myself to that when I signed on the dotted line.

My post wasn't really aimed at going out to fight though, rather than joking about posting on the internet from there.

"I need to hurry up and get deployed with my unit so I can make fun of Lard from Iraq. :P "

Between him and "The Corporal" I think we're actually seeing the cream of the crop of America's servicemen.

A lot of things in this story boggle the mind. First off isn't Halo rated M(17 and up)? So shouldn't anyone under 17 not be permitted to play the game in the store's launch party? Two. Why in the bloody hell do recruiters show up? Do they honestly think that their "Hey kids if you join with the (Air Force/Army/Navy) you can be like Master Chief and pwn the n00b terrorists with your mad Halo Skillz." pitch. I can guarantee non of the kids or teens who went to play Halo in the back of a pimp my ride military edition vehicle went because they wanted to hear about how great the military is. No they went to play Halo, so thankfully the recruiter's propaganda and lies fell on deaf ears. Maybe the recruiters should of noticed that if they were too young to play Halo in the store's tournament they were too young to go fight in a war. But then again this is our military we are speaking about, and they really aren't the brightest crayons in the box most of the time.

@ Lard,
seeing as how your agruments have been torn to shreds by us, i think i can take that as a genuine compliment, that you truly mean it. Thanks buddy.

@ Lard

Are you a LaRouchite?

Thank you for your compliment. Considering you can't take that statement as total sarcasm, I'm not too worried about your overall intelligence.

@E. Zachary Knight

Oh god, is this going to be American System all over again?

@ Brokenscope

Ah, yes. I remember American System. Great guy. Good for a laugh.

I think the underage label was used to describe those that are 17 but couldn't play in gamestops tourney because they were not 18.

For those that have hair up their ass about the military using video games to help recruiting, get over it. Its just a way to get their foot in the door, its a marketing tool. If you are going to ranting about this you may as well rant about the fact there is a college fund in the military. I mean after all its only poor people that can't afford to go to college, so only poor people join the military.


You think anyone has the guts to file charges against the US Air Force?

Balls of Steel, that is what you have to suggest doing so.

I think this is really sad.

@Ben Yaka

What about the card game called war?

Here's a little story for yah.

My wife and I often see military recruiters at all kinds of events. We've seen them at Gaming events, the Vans Warped Tour, and even BBQ Rib-Offs. Each time we pass them, we stick up our noses towards them and mutter a "boo" under our breaths.

It's not because we're unpatriotic. We think this is a great country with a lot of freedom that should not be taken for granted. And it's also because we feel that way that we dislike our current President (I sure as hell didn't vote for him!), various extremist nut jobs on both sides of the polls, and why we REALLY want to see Barack Obama win the Presidency.

But most importantly, we dislike military recruiters because they sent my brother in law, my wife's baby brother, to Iraq! They lied to him when he was signing up, saying that there was no way he'd be sent over. He'd be able to get money for college, achieve his career goals, and more. He went to Basic Training and had plans to get into the National Coast Guard once he was finished.

But not more than 2 weeks after he finished Basic, he had received orders to go to Iraq.

My wife's family and myself were NOT happy about that.

Soon though, he'll be home and able to transfer to the Coast Guard so he can do what he really wants: bust some heads by making sure that illegal drug cartels don't smuggle their illicit goods into our country.

He's a good kid too! Made Eagle Scout and received top honors in Scouts (including earning the medal for saving a life), trained in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Firefighting, and Police Enforcement, and enjoys spending time with tricking out his truck, playing paintball, and hanging out with friends.

My wife's family and I all can't wait for him to come back home. In the words of my mother-in-law:

"I want my son back!"

And yes, she actually DID say that!

So jeers to military recruiters that try and splash a pretty image over what they do. Training is good and all, but they forgot one thing:

People train WITH the hopes that they never have to use what they learn in training at all!

Torchwood, episode 3, when Capt. Jack Harkness teaches Gwen Cooper how to handle ballistic weaponry:

"Let's hope you never have to use any of this."

There may be a game called "War", but real life war is not a game! Not by a long shot! People get injured and killed regularly! And even if there's no physical harm, there's always mental scarring, the "Shell-Shock" that affects war veterans.

Bring our Troops home!


@Otakuman - While I'm sorry to hear that your brother-in-law was lied to, it's pretty hard to believe that anyone signs up for the military without expecting to get sent overseas. I knew when I went through ROTC that even though I was going into the Communications field in the Air Force, that there was a chance I'd see combat. Lo and behold, here I am, in a Combat Communications Squadron (I tell people that my job is to throw phones at people). While I'm not shipping out with my squadron in January, I most likely will be when our next rotation comes around the following year.

So yes, some recruiters out there are less than truthful, but anyone that thinks there's no chance they'll see combat is sorely mistaken. Sure, there's always a chance you'll get lucky and will never have to, but...there really are no guarantees.

The coast guard can still be sent to a war zone.

Lard, you didn't help your argument at all by acting like a petulant little bitchboy and ramping up your rhetoric with every post. I hope you are at least smart enough to know that. You came off sounding almost exactly like Jack Thompson.

To everyone volunteering to wear the uniform: Thank you. Your service is appreciated by this American.

This makes sense to me. Go to a place where there will be a bunch of young adult males, some of whom will be interested in working or changing jobs, then advertise to them. Only a little different than going to a high school job fair. Plus I'd imagine it's much more cost effective than TV commercials.

Us military recruiters visit high schools all over the US. Plenty of them are under 17. Anyone 17 or under cannot enlist on their own (17 can with parental consent). While I question the recruiters tact in this, they really did nothing wrong.


So you "boo" at military recruiters because you're shocked that your brother-in-law got sent to war during a war? That's just sheer ignorance on both your part and his.

you know though, i didnt see much in there were they were recruiting.

Its like saying that cause the Air show is free to the public that its attempting to recruite young people.

I do think my recruiter pretty much told the truth, and he is still telling the truth. Now he's telling me how to get back out again.
Though i will have to say... Halo? come on people, it is not the greatest game evar.

Slightly OT:

I find it amusing that the Air Force is attempting pull in recruits using Master Chief, a dude who's nickname and faction (UNSC) appear to be based on the Navy.

Then again, it's just me.

You can join the military, but you cant play a rated M game without a parents consent... hmm..

The Halo games don't even deserve an M rating. They are so damn tame i'd see no problem with allowing an 8 year old to play them. What's the worst they got, some orange, green and purple blood.

This just doesn't seem right.

Nobody's saying war is a game, just like nobody says "cops and robbers" is a schoolyard activity. The military has a HUGE gaming community, Halo being one of the most popular choices, and it isn't because the (largely) exceptionally professional men and women of the Armed Forces thought shooting the badguys was like twiddling a joystick.

People need to get over their own insecurities about the military and stop using every odd situation as an excuse to blast legitimate recruitment efforts.

(Go Army, by the way.)

Why not petition against the No Child Left Behind Act, which allows military recruiters full access to every school-child's personal information instead?
at least that makes sense.

throwing a hissy fit because a family member JOINED the military and then was sent to war is just idiotic.

This is bullshit, and I'm surprised to see that everybody here doesn't really think that. The military is using us. They see us gamers as target recruitments because of our fascination with violent video games. They think they can manipulate and coax us into joining through this shit. This Halo stunt is not unlike a pedophile luring kids into his car with candy. It's fucking ridiculous that we're sending kids off to fight in war thats foundation was built off of lies. I'm sorry if my language is a little bit colorful in regards to this manner, but I'm very unhappy with this whole affair.

Not only is this a offense to gamers, but it is also a big slap in the face to both the troops that are currently serving, and to the veterans of war. "War is not a game" and the Army certainly isn't in the game business to make a genuinely enjoyable gaming experience, it's solely using these games as a recruitment tool. I know it's expected behavior of the military, but I'm still sickened by this.

Wow the comments on here truly escape me. I was "lied" to as well when I signed up (I was told I could smoke cigs in boot camp and my ASVAB score would get me any job I wanted yet they failed to tell me I needed 20/20 vision as well) that's their job! To get you to sign up and reach their quota. If you don't talk to others in the military to get an accurate picture thats your OWN fault. No tears shed for Otakuman's situation either.

Oh and I agree if you are old enough to die for your country you should be able to drink. Therefore ONLY those serving in the military under the age of 21 should be allowed. They are the ones "dying" not the underage civilians looking for a legal reason to get drunk...

@ GoodRobotUs

Dude, if they had puppies, I would SO enlist right now.

[...] Military recruiters smell the fresh meat (GamePolitics) [...]

I was gonna write a long respite over some comments. But i thought better of it. Wouldn't change anyones minds.
but i will say the following.
I do not believe this is wrong or unlawful. I also believe we have the greatest system of recruitment, a volunteer one.
Though some recruiters lie, and are scumbags for it, many others do not. So I believe each case has to be judged on it's own merit and not by another situation.

to whoever that was up there that said the air force was the safest of "three" branches... there are actually six branches. army, navy, air force, army national guard, coast guard,and marine corps. these are all distinct branches of the military and imho the coast guard is the safest one.

Marine Corps is not a branch of the military, it is part of the Navy

and national guard is a branch of the army, but its still an individual outfit.

I guess you could say there are 4 major branches, but it doesnt change the fact theres still 2 more that are considered to be their own branches as well.
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