Army Recruiters Run Video Game Tournament

December 28, 2007 -
Yesterday on GamePolitics we covered Miami attorney Jack Thompson's accusation of an unholy alliance between the defense department and the video game industry.

We think Thompson's argument is a weak one.

If there is a truly controversial aspect regarding gaming and the military, however, it typically centers around the use of video games as a tool for attracting impressionable young men to the service. The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), for example, have protested against the use of the freely distributed America's Army game for recruitment purposes.

That scenario is playing out in Chandler, Arizona today as recruiters sponsor an America's Army tournament. As reported by the Arizona Republic:
Military recruiters are becoming increasingly creative as they work to boost enlistment rates... a local Army recruiting office is sponsoring a video-game tournament that is expected to draw more than 100 people. Recruiters will promote the benefits of the Army as video-game buffs play America's Army... 

Staff Sgt. Morgan Self, a Chandler recruiting officer, told the newspaper:
In the media, all you hear about is soldier's stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. We're trying to put out the word that it's not all about deployment.

The game is more or less just to have fun. If everyone that was playing was actually joining the Army, then recruiters wouldn't have a job.

Arguing against the event was Arizona State University student Rosela Martinez, who considers military video games a form of propaganda:
I really felt like these are professional salesmen targeting kids... It doesn't include anything about any real risks.

Henry Bernberg, 20, voiced similar concerns:
They (advertise) in a way that it's not a person you're killing, it's a computerized image. I think you should be told you're going to see horrible things and you may be put in a situation where you have to make a decision to do horrible things... like take someone's life.

Comments

Well, that's why they are called propagames. Unfortunately, they aren't required to list the downsides in advertising like they do with drugs.

Sgt. Morgan Self said it all.

Franckly, I don't get it when people freak out over that, it's predictable and not even effective. I mean, in those games, everybody ends up plastered against the walls. You don't get respawn. You don't want to be plastered against the walls.

you know how the military could get more recruits? stop discriminating against homosexuals.

instead, the army has decided they'd rather hire Felons.

"I really felt like these are professional salesmen targeting kids… It doesn’t include anything about any real risks."

OMG! Someone in the military FINALLY figured out that if you make the military life seem glamourous and all goody goody, that they'd have people join! What a unique concept!

Hey! We can even tell them that if they join, they can "See The World" (and blow things up. :) )
Or, hey, how about that we'll pay for their college education!
Heck, we can even tell them it's their Patriotic duty and that killing the enemy is just simply the right thing to do.

"They (advertise) in a way that it’s not a person you’re killing, it’s a computerized image. I think you should be told you’re going to see horrible things and you may be put in a situation where you have to make a decision to do horrible things… like take someone’s life."

Human Rights for NPC characters! Human Rights for NPC characters!

Pixels have feelings too! Pixels have feelings too!

Good luck with that.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

The local goArmy branch in our mall recently bought an xbox... the original. They could at least get with the times.

My recruiters had something similar in their office for awhile. They had an M4A1 with all the firing mechanisms replaced with a laser pointer which they had a camera reading as you shot on a projection screen. It was pretty fun, you got to qualify with your rifle, and protect a convoy from the top of a Stryker.

And BTW, America's Army had no impact on my decision to join. I hate the game simply for itself, personally.

the biggest disappointment about all this isn't that the recruiters are using video games, it's that they're trying to pretend joining isn't about Deployments.

right now if you join the military, you're getting deployed. DON'T let anyone tell you differently.

@ Conejo

Bingo.

"In the media, all you hear about is soldier’s stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re trying to put out the word that it’s not all about deployment."

That's a load. Joining the army IS all about for the majority of the people they're targeting with AA or any other sort of propagame. They don't recruit people for military intel or R&D based on their willingness to play or skill at an FPS.

The whole AA thing doesn't ruffle my feathers much, but I'd be a lot happier if they'd just call a spade a spade instead of trying to sugar-coat the whole thing.

Took a quick look at the AZ Republic article and have a bone to pick. They say that America's Army is a "role-playing" game. While that is true in the most general definition of the term (in the most general definition all games where you play a character other than your self is "role-playing") I think they are coming across as calling the genre of the game is role-playing.

Simple bone to pick but very annoying.

I don't really care for the game. I haven't played it, but may give it a shot as it is free. I have no intention of joining the army and I doubt a game could change that.

@Conejo

The unfortunate reality is that many in the military are not able to deal with the topic of homosexuality. I work for the USCG as a civilian, and have for years, and I still see and hear the hostile attitudes from people who just assume but do not know, but are more comfortable clinging to their belief than dealing with reality in this specific area. Things are changing, but you won't see any significant changes anytime soon.

Anyway, I enjoyed America's Army at the beginning, but when they dropped Linux support I stopped playing it.

If a military billboard ad is for recruitment. What's it called when I used to log into Anarchy Online and United States Air Force ads littered every billboard inside the cities?

I've been to the desert, and I have seen death from both sides. I will guarantee you there are no medics, clerics, necromancers or shadow knights that can resurrect........ The military is NOT a game!

Just tossing around my 2 cents.

I'd like to know where and when this is happening, I live in phoenix and I would go down and protest it. Does anyone know where it's going on and when?

@ Questionmark

From the AZ article:

A Chandler business, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, is hosting the event from noon to 8 p.m.


Have fun with the protest.

Ehh... don't waste your breath on protesting, their just doing their job. Some of them probably don't like it.
But if you think its just stuck with the Army, nah. Even the Navy would do it to if they could, same with the others. I've done a stint at joining... they will.
Hell right now I got the Navy, Marines, and AF saying they'll take me to every psychiatrist to get me cleared to join their branch. Army just gave up lol.

Conejo

I have three relatives enlisted in the Army. One's been in for five years; the other two, for about one year.

None have been deployed. All three are at Ft. Knox right now, and drive home on the weekends to spend time with the family. One is an MP and two are tank engineers.

I'm not saying they won't be deployed, but five years and one year pretty much covers new recruits and aged recruits not being deployed at a 100% rate.

Oh, great....recruiters have come to my state with videogames...ugh...*shakes head*

@ jds

I am happy to hear your relatives have not been deployed (seriously, no sarcasm). I've had cousins, a grandfather, and several friends from school who HAVE been at some point or another (ranging from relatively calm European tours to Desert Storm to an urban anti-terrorism unit deployed to Fallujah and various parts of Afghanistan after 9/11).

For the army recruiters to downplay the realities of deployment, in any way, is deceptive and wholly irresponsible. I see why they would do it, and it makes sense to me from their perspective, but that doesn't change the fact of the matter one bit.

"Come join the army, son. It's a great experience, and you probably won't be deployed anyway."

Yeah...no.

Funny that GP considers the use of videogames as a cheap political tool an enlightened activity, but have the US Army use the same to promote a military career then -blam!-, it's "controversial."

"Impressionable" youngsters get The Talk in their recruiter's office. Their parents usually do, too. And if it doesn't click with them then, then it certainly will during Basic.

I dare GP to stop running these pitiful and poorly researched hit jobs and find us ONE impressionable young recruit who signed up because he thought America's Army was cool. The games foster positive awareness; they don't clinch the deal.

I don't see why so many people have a problem with recruiting saying it's just a bunch of evil propaganda. The military has been advertising to young people for as long as it existed - and there's nothing wrong with that. All kinds of job opprtunities are advertised to us so why can't the military do it. Be glad we have one strong enough to protect our country and our rights - like arguing about this in the first place.

I don't understand why it is a bad thing for the military to recruit people? We live in a country of voluntary enlistment. Voluntary enlistment.The military personnel we have currently chose to be there. They can also make the choice to reenlist or not (my brother, for instance, chose not to reenlist in the Air Force and is a civilian once again). There are countries in this world where military service is not voluntary. Heck, it wasn't too long ago that there was a mandatory draft in the US itself!

Look, to protect our freedoms and land, we need X number of troops, plain and simple. X being a number that can shift depending on the amount of threats there are to the US at the time, as well as any other circumstances. The recruiters aren't the ones deciding where the troops go fight. Heck, the President doesn't even make that decision -- the Congress decides if and where the US forces fight. Sure, the President has limited power over where the National Guard goes -- probably more than he should, but it still is somewhat limited. And, the President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. But the President needs the approval of Congress to commit those forces anywhere.

Anyway, as I said, there is a need for X number of troops. The military has recruiters to help attain that number. The recruiters, like any and all salespeople, will say whatever they can to fill their quota. Not necessarily boldface lie (some do), but at least not exactly tell everything about it either. Don't want to scare away the "customer" and all that. So what if the military is using a video game or two, or three, or whatever to recruit. They've used comics, TV, radio, magazine, and newspaper ads to do that for a lot longer. The recruiters are doing nothing wrong trying to get more people in the service. Don't lash out at them for whatever reason (like, for instance, disliking the current War). Take it to the people who have real power and responsibility for it -- the Congress. Write your Senator, your Representative, etc. Flood them with letters and anything else you can protesting the War. Get them to order a withdrawl of the troops, and even G.W. Bush can't override it.

If the recruiters played up the horrors and reality of war, they'd get probably no recruits. It would be counterproductive. There are military personnel leaving the service every day, there always has been -- either through death, injury, or their enlistment contract is up and they don't reenlist. These numbers have to be replaced. The recruiters have the impossible job of trying to replace those numbers. If the numbers are not replaced, then the military starts significantly dropping in size, and the US becomes a HUGE, tantalizing target for many nations or groups. The military is like a sieve, constantly reducing in size, and with the recruiters' job, it is restocking its numbers. Don't get upset at them for doing their job. Or would you rather think it better if the draft was reinstated?

"Funny that GP considers the use of videogames as a cheap political tool an enlightened activity, but have the US Army use the same to promote a military career then -blam!-, it’s “controversial.”

Umm, there is a controversy about these tactics. GP is not on a high horse reporting that. But let me ask you this, what exactly about a death match is promoting a military CAREER? This is like saying Super Mario Brothers promotes an active exercise regiment.

Now, I have personally heard recruiters make pie in the sky promises such as "you'll never be deployed" and even "make $100K a year within five years." Some recruiters lie and are deceptive. And they use games to lure people into their webbing. There is no debating this. This is where the controversy comes in.

Some claim the use of games is an unfair practice.
Some claim there is no harm, no foul.

Frankly, I could care either way. I've heard recruiters lie though, hell, I was promised six years of college and a $100K income level. Thankfully I did some research otherwise I could be serving right now with nothing close to what I was promised. But if someone impulsively signs up to things that are too good to be true, well, army may have been their only shot at a decent future anyway.

@ Xlorep DarkHelm

You make an excellent point. Enlisting is voluntary. It's all the more reason why I have so much respect for those who do enlist. Putting your life on the line in a hazardous area voluntarily takes a lot. I know that not everyone gets deployed, however many do. No one wants to see people get hurt or killed. However, defense of a nation requires exactly that even when done in a non-violent fashion.

For those who are against using video games as a promotional tool what do you suggest? You won't get 18 year olds enlisting with a bake sale... Would you rather they use some sort of time share strategy and lure all possible enlistees to some restort area, lock them in, and then drill them about how their lives will be wasted if they don't sign up before walking out the door? Personally I'll support their current methods that do not entrap or intimidate.

@ sheppy

Guess you didn't do enough research. I've known tons of people, including my dad, who did get their college paid for, as well as their 100k in benefits. The retirement isn't shabby, either. And yes, while they were deployed, it was difficult on them and us, but that was their job, and they did it because it was for a greater good.

If you didn't join up because you didn't want to, fine. I don't plan on serving in an enlisted capacity, either. That's the beauty of a volunteer service. But don't blast the recruiters offering a legitimate, promising option.

If you join the Army or Marines, you WILL get deployed. This goes for National Guard and Reserves, too. Especially Reserves. Reserves of any branch of the military get top priority when it comes to getting deployed.

If you join the Navy, you will most likely get deployed. If you join the Air Force, there is a good chance you will get deployed. Whereas every single career field in the Army and Marines involves getting deployed, there are a handful of jobs in the Navy and Airforce that remain stateside.

The biggest lie I've ever heard a recruiter tell was that if you sign up Open General, then you might still get the job you want. If you don't sign up for the specific job that you want to do, then unless you couldn't fire a rifle to save your life, that is all you're going to be doing. If you can't shoot, then you're a cook.

And the Military will pay for your college when you get out (assuming you get an Honorable discharge) or even while you're still enlisted (if you're in one of those career fields that isn't getting deployed and/or you take online classes, all at your commanding officer's discretion). Not all colleges accept the MGIB, but many do.

Who gives a fuck what two students from Arizona state say? Honestly, no one gives a fuck. That's who.

@Anywho

That's not the truth. I had 3 of my friends sign, and none of them have deployed in their 10 year careers.

Another thing I have to say on the topic.

If you don't want to deploy, don't join the Army or the Marines. Join the Chairforce.

Seriously, if you want to take the gifts the government extends to its soldiers and veterans and don't want to do any work, then fuck off. There's nothing for free in this world; you want USAA insurance (tri-care has AMAZING fucking insurance)? WORK FOR IT.

As for the game, its a lot of fun, but its just that; a game. There's nothing 'horrible or disgusting' in it, and its not a hard decision to end the movement of a lump of pixels. Some people need to grow a fucking spine, or resign themselves to being candy-assed mommas boys all their lives.

@Questionmark.

Oh go parade somewhere else you pansy, no one gives a fuck what you have to say.

"Now, I have personally heard recruiters make pie in the sky promises such as “you’ll never be deployed” and even “make $100K a year within five years.” Some recruiters lie and are deceptive. And they use games to lure people into their webbing. There is no debating this. This is where the controversy comes in"

My father made 250K a year in the Army. It also paid for his education.

@ Austin Lewis

Way to be a douchebag.

in five successive posts no less.

@Austin

And your opinion is somehow more valid then anyone else's on here?

"Oh go parade somewhere else you pansy, no one gives a fuck what you have to say."

Stop a moment and take your own advice.

I don't believe that pulling people in with a video game and then trying to convince them to sign up for the military is a good way to build our army. I aslo don't think recruiters should be allowed in high schools. I've gotten the whole "We'll pay for you to go to college and all you have to do is one week a month for two years" BS while I was in high school. Had I signed up I would be across the ocean right now. I have two friends that have been deployed for multiple stays in Iraq, so don't give me that BS that the military isn't treating the recruits like garbage right now. Not to mention the fact that we currently have no exit strategy.

I have no problem with people who sign up for the military, or the fact that they want to do something for their country. I do have a problem with the recruiters candy-coating the reality of the situation in order to meet their quotas and get their full paychecks. Using a video game to attract potential recruits is not a valid method of recruiting, there's a reason recruitment has gone down lately, it's because people don't want to get sent over and die.

@Austin Lewis

"Who gives a fuck what two students from Arizona state say? Honestly, no one gives a fuck. That’s who."

You'd make an excellent Drill Sergeant.. Shout at the recruits all day and night..

Oh, and by the way, it's a double edged sword. They have the right to free speech, you do too. No-one gives a fuck about what they say, no-one gives a fuck about what you say.

Except, people do care what they say. Dennis wouldn't have included it if they didn't. See how that works?

And watch your fucking mouth. There is a comments policy you know.

@ Austin Lewis & @ jds

I'm not trying to counter what you said in general, and first, I hope that your friends and any family in the military continue to have the good luck to not get deployed to Iraq (or Afghanistan), as well as enjoying the potential military benefits without other excessive danger or disruption.

However, most Active Duty jobs in the Army and Marines right now get deployed to Iraq at least once in a 5 year period, and in those states which have always sent their people (to cover the war for those states that can't or won't), Guard and Reserves in GENERAL will go minimum twice in 5 years.

Obviously there are jobs less likely to ever get deployed, and states where the Guard and Reserves are just free/cheap college providers, but the first isn't common outside the Air Force and certain jobs in the Navy, and the second means the rest of us go more often to make up for it. However, that's ignoring issues of rank--if you know mainly officers of certain ranks, or the highest-ranking NCOs, then yes, they may never get deployed, ever, and yes, they won't make only the 20-some thousand dollars a year privates through low-ranking NCO's are likely to see.

But a lot of us here don't have friends/family at those levels, and regardless of where we stand on the usage of videogames of recruitment tools, it's mostly non-comissioned soldiers, primarily infantry and cavalry of low ranks, being targeted with them. The very people who most likely WILL see the horrors of war firsthand, and be deployed for ungodly lengths of time with no real bonuses save danger pay and no taxation.

@Questionmark

Having served, my opinion would appear to be far more valid than yours.

The game isn't a recruitment tool, so much as a way of informing people of the choice of military service. Many students use the military to pay for college, get a foothold, fill out resumes, etc.

"Using a video game to attract potential recruits is not a valid method of recruiting"

No shit, but it is a way to get people into a recruiting office and to get people to think about it.

@BlackIce

I have no desire to teach anyone anything ever.

@Conejo

FOUR consecutive posts. Four.

Is it just me, or does America's Army (the game) make the military seem less glamorous compared to other games? I mean, whenever i play as the US, my genades never explode, my M-16 always jams at the worst possible moment, and the humvee seems to go down way to easily. meanwhile, almost every other game about war ever made actually makes me want to join the military, while America's Army just scares me away.

Anyone else notice that? just look at WWII games. Guns dont jam, grenades explode when they should, and the vehicles seem to take a lot of punishment before they explode in a blaze of glory.

@Austin

I applaud you for your service.

However that still doesn't justify the kinds of things I've seen recruiters do, both personally and in instances like this, to get people to sign up without them ever knowing exactly what their in for.

Many people come back form wars like the one we're in now permanently traumatized. They have trouble getting decent care for those psychological problems because it's difficult to diagnose and treat. No one mentions that when you sign up.

I still remember the line the recruiter at my school gave "The army has 300+ jobs, only 15 of those will ever actually see combat." Yeah, the truth is only 15 of those are ever supposed to see combat. But that doesn't stop say a terrorist in Iraq from planting a roadside bomb and killing the driver for the food truck. Or someone taking a medic hostage and torturing him or her to make a point.

There are also PLENTY of people who have served and disagree with the war going on right now, and the way the government is portraying it to possible new recruits.

I'm not saying your point is invalid, I'm saying you can't candy-coat it and glaze over the bad parts like recruiters tend to do for things like this. It isn't right and it shouldn't happen.

"Guess you didn’t do enough research. I’ve known tons of people, including my dad, who did get their college paid for, as well as their 100k in benefits. The retirement isn’t shabby, either. And yes, while they were deployed, it was difficult on them and us, but that was their job, and they did it because it was for a greater good."

Pointing out the minority and claiming it to be the majority doesn't work, you know. Or are you trying to claim that the MAJORITY of people who enlist end up making over 100k and being put through college?

"I’m not saying your point is invalid, I’m saying you can’t candy-coat it and glaze over the bad parts like recruiters tend to do for things like this. It isn’t right and it shouldn’t happen."

Precisely, Questionmark. I don't really have a problem with AA being used to get people into the recruiters office. I have a problem with what they say once they're there. Like everyone else, I had the recruiters at job fairs in my high school, and yes, I do distinctly remember the things they said. Mostly because they did have that "too good to be true" ring to them.

Don't tell kids that they most likely won't be deployed if they sign on. End of story.

as someone that served (and deployed), I have no problem with AA; however, recruiters do lie and misdirect frequently. As for the pay scales, the junoir enlisted really don't make squat.
My personal bitch is (sub officers) get threatened with ground deployment if they do not extend their contract. Couple of my friends deployed to Iraq and Afganistan (on the ground) that way.
 
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