Incoming: America's Army 3.0

January 21, 2009 -

America's Army, the increasingly controversial computer game/military recruitment tool, is getting a makeover.

A press release issued yesterday by the Army announced that America's Army 3 will be launched later this year. Executive producer Michael Bode commented on the upcoming revision:

In AA3 we've taken all of the best features in AA2, incorporated feedback from the AA community and added the latest technology to develop a high-tech game that can be customized by the player to create a much more detailed interactive experience.


One of our key design philosophies is to make the game easily accessible to a new player, while at the same time keeping a deeper layer of complexity for the more advanced players to discover and take advantage of.

Col. Casey Wardynski, who created the original America's Army in 2002 and continues to serve as director of the project, added:

With AA3, we're taking military gaming to an all new level where every detail counts. We want our America's Army 3 players to have a greater understanding of the Army and its values. Our Soldiers are aspirational figures and our players are able to virtually experience many aspects of a Soldier's life from their training, to their missions, to the way the Army has influenced their lives.

As with previous editions, America's Army 3 is expected to be rated T (13 and older) by the ESRB. The new version will be based on the Unreal Engine 3.


Army's Video Game-Equipped Recruitment Center Fuels Controversy

January 12, 2009 -

The controversy over the United States Army's use of video games to woo potential recruits rages on...

On Friday Reuters served up a detailed report on a new, $12 million recruiting facility opened by the Army at a Philadelphia shopping mall:

The U.S. Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills shopping mall in northeast Philadelphia has 60 personal computers loaded with military videogames, 19 Xbox 360 video game controllers and a series of interactive screens describing military bases and career options in great detail.

Potential recruits can hang out on couches and listen to rock music that fills the space.

The center is the first of its kind and opened in August as part of a two-year experiment. So far, it has signed up 33 full-time soldiers and five reservists -- roughly matching the performance of five traditional recruiting centers it replaced.

However, Iraq war vet Jesse Hamilton criticized the operation:

[The Army Experience Center is] very deceiving and very far from realistic. You can't simulate the loss when you see people getting killed. It's not very likely you are going to get into a firefight. The only way to simulate the heat is holding a blow dryer to your face.

GP: This is a tough call. While games like Call of Duty 4 tend to glamorize combat, the Army obviously needs recruits and young men have always been its core recruitment demographic. What do you think, GP readers?


Protester: Army's Teen Game Competition is "Military Pedophilia"

December 7, 2008 -

Sacramento's News-10 reports that a small contingent of military veterans staged a protest outside a game tournament sponsored by the US Army in Rancho Cordova, California yesterday.

Members of the group Veterans for Peace assembled outside of an Army training center while teens competed inside. Protester John Reiger told News-10:

It's like giving candy to kids. It's sort of like military pedophilia in a way, preying on our young people.

However, Army Sgt. Victor Farrier defended the event, which was staged to show off recruiting game America's Army:

The event is nothing more than an opportunity for people to become familiar with the Army.

Sgt. Farrier added that only those 17 and older were eligible to participate on their own. Under-17s were admitted as well, if accompanied by a parent.


US Army Invades Second Life

December 4, 2008 -

Can Delta Force defend against the Flying Penis?

We may find out soon. Wired's Danger Room blog reports that the US Army is planning to set up shop in Second Life. Gen. William Wallace (left), who leads the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, said at a recent conference:

Over the next thirty to forty-five days you might, if you’re one of them Second Life avatar dudes, that likes to go populate islands within Second Life, you will find an Army island in Second Life.

GP: While the Army is dealing with a recruitment problem, Second Life doesn't seem like a cost-effective way to solve it. First, SL is so 2006 - the buzz is clearly gone. Second, even in Second Life's heyday its significance was overhyped. Finally, the offbeat SL crowd seems far removed from the Army's typical recruitment pool.

Still, there are virtual items to be had. Gen. Wallace told Wired:

If you perform well in the activities you get points and those points can be used to buy virtual tee-shirts and baseball caps.


Army Opens New Front: Video Game Development

November 24, 2008 -

Stars & Stripes reports that the U.S. Army will sink $50 million into training-oriented video games. The project will launch in 2010. There's even a new unit devoted to the ambitious project.

Lt. Col. Gary Stephens told Stars & Stripes that the Army will be keeping tabs on developments in the game biz, but doesn't plan to compete there:

The Army takes this seriously. We own gaming for the Army — from requirements through procurement... We don’t have the intent to become a competitor with the commercial gaming industry.

In addition, the Army plans to award a contract in the next few weeks for what sounds like a fabuloulsy cool mod of current FPS gameware:

The new game — dubbed "Game After Ambush" — will be an off-the-shelf commercial product that comes with tools that will allow the Army to make almost any modification necessaryto terrain, scenarios, missions, etc....


Col. Mark McManigal, the capabilities manger for gaming under the Training and Doctrine Command, said the selected game must provide low-cost training and must not require large number of technicians to run. It must also have a play-back function for after-action reviews, he said...


the Army will have 70 gaming systems in 53 locations in the United States, Germany, Italy and South Korea between February and September 2009... Soldiers will be able to drive virtual vehicles, fire virtual weapons, pilot virtual unmanned aerial vehicles... in a virtual battle space as large as 100 kilometers by 100 kilometers, she said.



America's Diplomat Parodies America's Army Game

November 13, 2008 -

Comedy troupe the Yes Men spoofed the New York Times yesterday with an elaborate prank which saw hard copies of a faux NYT distributed in New York and several other major U.S. cities.

The feel-good parody edition was reportedly created to encourage President-elect Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises.

There's a game angle to the prank as well. Among the stories in the parody edition is one which reports that the Defense Department's popular America's Army game has been cancelled as part of the elimination of the Army's entire recruitment budget. In its place, the story says, the State Department will offer the more peaceful America's Diplomat.

The avowed purpose of America’s Diplomat is to encourage young people to consider careers in the diplomatic corps, and to present non-military alternatives in a positive light. Where the ability to aggressively attack and kill opponents spelled success in America’s Army, America’s Diplomat stresses situations that demand negotiation, dialogue and peaceful outcomes...


Lenny Purvill, a 16-year-old player, noted an initial disappointment in finding his favorite online game replaced. “I liked to pretend I was in the army going on missions in Iraq. And blowing stuff up was fun,” he told the press. Purvill, who has been playing the game since he was 13, had been considering signing up when he turned 18.

His initial disappointment, however, was replaced by fascination as he facilitated a peaceful negotiations between Sunni and Shiite militiamen. “It was like, are they gonna shoot each other? No! They’re not! ’Cause I’m helping them settle their differences with diplomacy. It’s so awesome,” he said.

GP: "Comedy troupe" might not be the most appropriate description of the Yes Men. Their Wikipedia page terms them "culture jamming activists."


Green Party Congressional Candidate Takes Stand Against America's Army Exhibit

October 19, 2008 -

Green Party candidate Peter Myers, running for Congress in California's 15th District, has come out in opposition to the Pentagon's use of the America's Army: Virtual Army Experience simulator in recruiting efforts.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Virtual Army Experience sparked protests from anti-war groups at several stops during a summer tour of county fairs and air shows.

On his campaign blog, Myers writes:

This report from CNN shows you what some of your hundreds of billions of dollars of tax dollars pay for when they go to the Pentagon. The military's recruitment process for future wars is slick and neatly packaged, and you and I pay for it every day.

My opponents won't take the initiative to rein in this type of wasteful spending that creates an American culture more militant than ever before. Only I have chosen to stand up against these disturbing military recruitment practices; a vote for anyone else is a vote for more disappointment.

In late August, following protests, the Army agreed to restrict participants to those 17 and older. However, the CNN report referenced by Myers clearly shows a 13-year-old boy in line for the exhibit and having his personal data being collected (see pic). It's unknown when the CNN footage was shot.

The more familiar America's Army PC and console games have been criticized by some peace groups for allegedly violating U.N. protocols barring military recruitment of children.

The Green Party's Myers is running against incumbent Mike Honda (D). Myers candidacy is a long shot.


Teen Cites America's Army Game in Enlistment Decision

October 6, 2008 -

Did you ever wonder if the America's Army game ever actually inspired anyone to join the service?

Wonder no more.

A 17-year-old Wisconsin boy, Tyler Battig, told the Fond du Lac Reporter:

I felt like enlisting because I have a lot of family that joined the Army and served, plus 'America's Army,' the computer game, came out and that got me thinking more and more... I do face the fact that I could be going overseas, but that shouldn't stop anybody from joining.

America's Army has sparked protests in recent months from anti-war groups. In August, protesters marched outside Ubisoft's San Francisco HQ. Ubi published the console editions of America's Army, although the more popular PC version is freely distributed by the Department of Defense.

In the photo Tyler is seen with his mother, Kim Battig, who also enlisted, as well as two Army recruiters.


Move to Bring America's Army Game to High Schools Raises Questions

September 21, 2008 -

Given recent criticism that the America’s Army game is being used to recruit children for military service, perhaps the last place you’d expect the Army to take its game is to America's high schools.

But in a move that’s sure to raise eyebrows, the Army has teamed with non-profit organization Project Lead The Way “to enhance student curriculum by using a variety of Army technologies to promote student interest in the engineering and technical fields.” 

The platform used for the curriculum will, of course, be America’s Army. Col. Casey Wardynski, project originator and director of the game project said:

The U.S. Army is committed to educating today's youth. We are honored to work with Project Lead The Way to employ our technologies to allow students to explore critical subjects like math, engineering and the sciences in an innovative and hands-on manner.  Encouraging our youth to develop expertise in science and engineering is imperative. The America's Army Technology Education program provides a unique offering by combining the power of gaming and simulations with real life equipment to create a compelling academic program.

AE: Reading the press release, it looks like the partnership will be doing more than simply dropping the game in students’ laps and saying, “have fun.”  Rather, it appears they‘ve used the game as a backbone for specifically tailored educational software with a pro-military slant.

Via: Water Cooler Games

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics correspondent Andrew Eisen... 


Veterans Group Drops Army Game Protest After Promise of Age Restrictions

August 31, 2008 -

The Defense Deparment's Virtual Army Experience game continues to make waves as it tours air shows and summer festivals.

In the latest flap, the Ohio chapter of Veterans for Peace agreed to drop its planned protest after Army officials agreed not to admit players under 17 to the interactive game, which depict a firefight between U.S. soldiers and virtual insurgents. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

The Army recruiting video game originally targeted teens as young as 13 to use simulated machine guns to kill virtual enemies in a projected Middle East war setting. Show-goers sit in a replica of a Humvee, virtually speed through desert terrain and shoot fake machine guns at life-size pictures of people projected on a wraparound screen.

The Army utilizes the simulator as a recruitment tool.


Shades of the 1960's: Antiwar Protest at Ubisoft

August 7, 2008 -

Yesterday GamePolitics reported on a planned protest march outside Ubisoft's San Francisco office.

Peace group Direct Action to Stop the War hoped to persuade Ubisoft to drop its support of the America's Army franchise, which the organization claims violates U.N. protocols against recruiting children into the military.

Two representatives of the group apparently scored some face time with Ubi's U.S. CEO Laurent Detoc. MTV Multiplayer has a response statement from Ubisoft:

Ubisoft is a leading publisher that strives to create the best entertainment experiences possible. Ubisoft worked with the U.S. Army to create America’s Army games for the Xbox and Xbox 360 in order to deliver a compelling experience for our customers. As we discussed with the Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW) organization, our games are created to meet a diverse range of interests and not to express or endorse any political view. We respect DASW's First Amendment rights, and would hope they also respect and recognize ours.

Wired Game|Life's Chris Kohler has a lengthy (if slightly snarky) running commentary on the protest.


Protest March Today: Ubisoft Violating U.N. Protocols with America's Army, Group Claims

August 6, 2008 -

Does the America's Army game franchise violate United Nations protocols regarding military recruitment of children?

GameDaily reports on a group called Direct Action to Stop the War which says that it does and has taken Ubisoft, which publishes console versions of America's Arm, to task. On its website, the San Francisco-based Direct Action writes:

"America’s Army” the property and brainchild of the US Army, which admit freely, and with pride, that it is one of their principal recruitment tools...
The military recruitment of children under the age of 17, however, is a clear violation of international law (the U.N. Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict). No attempt to recruit children 13-16 is allowed in the United States, pursuant to treaty.  In May, the [ACLU] published a report that found the armed services regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment.  The report highlighted the role of “America’s Army...”


The game is having an effect.  An informal study showed that 4 out of 100 new recruits in Ft. Benning, Georgia credit America’s Army as the primary factor in convincing them to join the military... 

Direct Action will be staging a protest today at noon near the San Francisco office of Ubisoft as well as two other local companies, GameLoft and Secret Level:

Ubisoft is not the only South Park neighbor engaged in the development of the game, Gameloft is working on the cell phone application and Secret Level was a designer on the 2005 Xbox version...  This August 6, on the 63rd Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, come out and ask the producers and developers of America’s Army to stop helping the Army recruit children. 

Last month Direct Action sent a letter of protest to Ubisoft CEO Laurent Detoc. The group claims that it has heard back from Detoc, who said:

Ubisoft has already planned not to make any further games of America's Army, that they may announce that decision in the future and he discouraged us from continuing our Hiroshima Day action... If Ubisoft's claims are true, why have they not publicly announced the end of the work for the Army's recruitment videogame, and why have they not ended their contract with Army, set to expire in 2015?



Peace Group Protests Follow America's Army Exhibit

July 10, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on a peace group's protest that forced changes to the America's Army exhibit at Wisconsin's Summerfest.

Huntsville, Alabama's WAFF-48 now reports that a similar protest is planned at an Air Show in Duluth, Minnesota. Michele Naar-Obed of a group called Loaves and Fishes criticized the game, in which players seated in a Humvee shoot at virtual enemy combatants:

I'm very upset over this. I think this is just insane that they would use this kind of venue to train our youth to kill people.

An Army recruiter dismissed the criticism, however. SFC John Haymond told WAFF:

It's kind of curious that some people would object to a virtual army experience game when the central draw to the Duluth Air Show is the Blue Angels who are flying F-18 Super Hornet strike aircraft, which last time I checked, was a military weapon.

Haymond added that no one under 17 is permitted into the exhibit. The air show is setting up a separate area for protesters of the game.


America's Army Exhibit Replaced at Music Festival Following Protests

July 3, 2008 -

The U.S. Army has removed a combat simulator from its display tent at Wisconsin's Summerfest music festival following complaints that the exhibit glorified war.

As reported by Milwaukee's Fox-6, the original display, which allowed players to sit in a HumVee and fire simulated weapons at realistic human combatants, has been replaced by one in which players shoot at inanimate targets.

Protests over the Army display began with a pair of groups, Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Wisconsin. Julie Enslow, a spokesperson for Peace Action Wisconsin, told Fox-6: 

[War] is not a game... and it should not be presented as such. Especially at Summerfest.

 The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more:

Under the combat scenario initially presented in the game, fest-goers as young as 13 could hop into a Humvee simulator and fire machine guns at near life-size human likenesses on a computer screen.


According to a description of the game on the Army’s Web site, an Army ground task force attempts to rescue trapped aid workers and refugees in the imaginary city of “Nradreg” from a “well-armed genocidal faction.”



Army Recruitment Going Interactive

June 16, 2008 -

Brand Week reports that the US Army plans to wage a game-oriented attack on subpar recruiting efforts.

In August the Army will unveil the first of a new wave of recruitment centers in which prospective soldiers will play America's Army and fly missions in Apache and Blackhawk helicopter sims.

Apple's retail stores and venues like the ESPN Zone are said to be the inspirations behind the new approach. Army official Edward Walters told Brand Week:

In the past we've focused on traditional media vehicles. [But] the millennial generation is used to engaging in interactive assets and we need to adapt to them.

From the description, the days of handing would-be recruits a brochure will soon be over:

The first new recruitment center is designed to be less intimidating and more "like walking into a NASA center," said Walters. It will consist of three large simulators with full-scale mock-ups of Army equipment and wrap-around 270-degree video screens...


The Apache simulator allows a pilot and co-pilot to experience the aircraft and its weapons systems. The Black Hawk helicopter simulator provides four door gunner positions. And, the armored HMMWV vehicle simulator has positions for a driver and several gunners. The centers also will include an area where visitors can compete in America's Army, a videogame...

Via: Gizmodo


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james_fudgeI'll be watching the Facebook page09/01/2015 - 10:14am
james_fudgethe site maybe up right now, but we're not updating until we're at the new location.09/01/2015 - 10:13am
james_fudge - 10:12am
Mattsworkname - 3:18am
MattsworknameTotal bisquit talkes about why teh Deus X pre order systems is garbage.09/01/2015 - 3:18am
MechaTama31Infophile: Kind of like how you're criticizing these theoretical reactions before you've even read any? ;)09/01/2015 - 12:44am
PHX CorpI'll probaly Start the stream around 8PM Eastern08/31/2015 - 10:09pm
PHX CorpOk, see you guys Tomorrow on the GP Facebook Page, I'll be steaming either the first 2 megaman games(Through Megaman Legacy Collection) or Rare Replay as the first game on My page tomorrow While we wait for GP to Come back up later this week08/31/2015 - 10:01pm
james_fudgeAlso check out our Facebook page and chat there! - 9:53pm
james_fudgeSee you all on the other side! Find me on Twitter :)08/31/2015 - 9:51pm
james_fudgeAllright, i'll mention this on the GP facebook page08/31/2015 - 9:49pm
PHX Corpand now it's ready to go for everyone08/31/2015 - 9:35pm
PHX Corpok, done I have to put on one more finishing touch and it is ready to go08/31/2015 - 9:19pm
Andrew EisenFeel free to leave us suggestions on Facebook or Twitter too. We're going to be busy but we'll try our best to keep an eye on 'em.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenIt's an interesting idea though. If we do anything, we probably won't know until after the site goes offline so keep an eye on GP social media for announcements.08/31/2015 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we could use my Twitch chat box too. There's always IRC but we don't currently have a GamePolitics channel.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Goth_SkunkThough I think the limit is 9 at a time in the hangout, so anyone who can't get in would be stuck out in the 'on air' portion.08/31/2015 - 8:57pm
Andrew EisenFor the show, I'd like the chat open to anyone who wants to watch.08/31/2015 - 8:55pm
PHX CorpI could Set Up a Temporary chatroom on My twitch.TV page while GP is busy updating the site(since I'll be Fighting Megaman Legacy Collection on Xbox one)08/31/2015 - 8:54pm
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