May 27, 2005

Inviting you into the army with a video game.

WaPo on the Army's on-line video game:
There are no statistics about how many people have joined the Army because of the game, or after playing the game, but Army officials have plenty of positive anecdotes and say it can only help in a very difficult recruiting environment.

"The game is never going to overcome someone's trepidation and fears regarding the ongoing war on terror," [Sgt. 1st Class Bo] Scott said. "But it does get some people talking to recruiters who might not have otherwise. It opens a window, and if they look in and they decide to join, great."

It's just another way to advertise about joining the military, but I suppose some people will have a big problem with this. Here's the game. I haven't tried playing it. I haven't seen anyone blogging about this article, but I would expect some to say that it takes unfair advantage of vulnerable people or that video games somehow undermine your mental powers.


TWM said...

Hmmm, if a video game can undermine your mental powers I am pretty sure the Army would not want you. The Army, despite having a drop in recruiting, wants men and women who can show initiative and take charge. The modern military wins wars not only because of technology, but because of the quality of the people serving.

A bunch of game zombies is the last thing they need.

Of course you are right though, someone will complain about it. That is the nature of things.

Bruce Hayden said...

Realistically, this is a video gaming generation, and the military does use such for training. Of course, a lot, lot, more sophisticated than you can get on your PC (or Mac for those eccentrics like Ann).

And of course, there is real life video gaming, such as flying UAVs (and even once or twice blowing up bad guys). This is, of course, fated to expand. For an interesting take on the possible future of land warfare, there is a Warbot series of Sci/Fi by a Harry Stine. What he posited a decade and a half ago may not be that far in our future.

bill said...

Odd that this game is just now being discovered by the media party. It's been around for quite some time, pre-Iraq war IIRC.

It's a good game, portrays the Army in real life terms. With all the mindless shoot 'em ups out there, by comparison this is a pretty sophisticated game -- It's like a strategy game with action figures.

The military hating media party seems bent on trashing the military every way they can. I wonder why...

Big Hal said...

I read a few gamer web sites and most people who mention the game seem to like it. About the only complaint I've seen about the latest version is that it is possible to shoot the members of your own team. I don't think I have ever seen a post by anyone who has joined because of the game though.

DaveG said...

I've played it enough times to learn a few things.

First, it's a good thing I enlisted in the Air Force, whose task when under attack is to hide. My incompetence as an Infantry troop was so bad that I named my in-game persona Sgt. Meatshield, or sometimes Pvt. Sniperbait.

Second, it's a lot easier than you would think to mistake your own guys for the enemy when things start happening quickly.

Third, the game designers recognize that not everyone enlisting in the Army will choose to carry a weapon. The role of medic is available in the game too.

All in all, it's a very good piece of work, and incredibly well supported by the developers. If it weren't free, it would be a bargain at the going rate of $50.

Oh, and I'm aware that it isn't really 'free' - I'm one of the taxpayers that paid for it.

And yes, there were complaints when it first came out a few years ago. They had died down for awhile - if they're coming back now, that is unfortunate. I don't understand the opinions in the media that the military shouldn't be allowed to recruit.

Ann Althouse said...

DaveG: Thanks for the info. The question is why is WaPo doing a story. I assume it's because of the war and recent reports of falling short on recruitments. I would expect bloggers to respond to a WaPo article on this topic.

Lord Osmo Blatherard said...

The link to the WaPo article is broken. The piece can be found here.

FWIW, I tried this game a ways back, when it came out. It seemed quite similar to Counter-Strike, another game in the multiplayer shooter genre. The visuals were nicely done; it's an overall nicely polished game. I can't really see, though, how it would make much difference in recruiting actual soldiers, just as I doubt many gamers have been lured into the thug's life by Grand Theft Auto.

snooker: I am baffled by your statement that "the military hating media party seems bent on trashing the military every way they can..." This article is quite upbeat. To what, precisely, are you referring?

Chris said...

This game has indeed been around for a while.

I remember when it first came out there were complaints about it because, if I recall correctly, people didn't like recruiting aimed at young kids.

But that seemed to mostly be a misconception of video games as things only for the very young. It was quickly pointed out that the game is rated Teen, and if your young kids are playing games like this you have more to worry about than recruiting activities.

DaveG said...

Having read the article, I can't find any angle to the WaPo running it. It's in the Technology section, so my guess would be a tech writer came across it (or received a press release from the Army) and thought it was interesting enough to write about. I've considered reviewing it myself for the site I contribute to ( but never got around to it.

As another commenter noted, it's a pretty positive article. I personally wouldn't blog about it as my blogging tends towards responding to media negativity and political hypocrisy, and I couldn't find anything to snipe at in that article. Maybe if the LA Times picks up on it...

Lord Osmo Blatherard said...

Most likely, there's a story because the army did some PR work. Just last week they had a sizeable setup at the big consumer electronics show, E3. See the PC World article U.S. Army Invades E3.

HaloJonesFan said...

"Warbots" was _terrible_. It sounds like the horrible Chuck Norris fan-fics I used to write in eighth grade.

Try David Drake's stuff, it's much better. Look for "Paying the Piper".