Iraq War Veterans Protest America's Army Game

September 4, 2007 -
Even among some military veterans, support for the war in Iraq is dwindling.

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, veterans of the war gathered to protest recently at the Missouri Black Expo. The focus of their attention was a display of the America's Army video game:
About 90 Iraq war veterans, dressed in black shirts, stood in formation Saturday afternoon in front of military recruiters at America's Center and shouted their protest message three times: "War is not a game!"

They were referring to the large military simulation game set up by Army recruiters... The group of veterans, known as Iraq Veterans Against the War, were in St. Louis for their annual meeting this weekend when they decided to stage a brief demonstration at the Expo.

America's Army was created several years ago by the Department of Defense. The PC version, a first-person shooter using simulated military weapons, is given away for free by the Army as a recruitment and public relations tool.

Here's the video of the IVAW protest:


War is not a game, but war is the subject of many games, books, movies, and other stories. War is used as a metaphor in sports, in business, in the way we deal with other people. Human conflict always makes an interesting backdrop for entertainment.

The ancient greeks had a lot of gods, but the two that get the lion's share of attention in the myths and plays, are Ares and Aphrodite. Mankind's two greatest passions, Love & War. Always have been and forever will be.

Plus, context aside, AA is actually a really fun game.

@Miami Jack

Your actually correct, nostradamus wasn't that accurate to begin with, and neither are you.

Just a snippet from the wikipedia entry of Nostradamus

"In contrast, most of the academic sources listed below maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus' quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. Moreover, none of the sources listed offers any evidence that anyone has ever interpreted any of Nostradamus' quatrains specifically enough to allow a clear identification of any event in advance.[1]"

get that Jack? making a broad statement doesn't mean you said something specific years ago.

hmmm, what would a Jack Thompson quatrain look like?

"Behold the King of the Two of Take,
Conspire he thus to poison the minds of youth,
With images to the eyes of violence unmatched,
Youth of the land copy these, sayeth the gray crusader."

Jack's "predictions" generally are so broad that of course they are going to come to pass. It is equivalent to saying if you let go of a baseball it will fall. Jack's great predictions are basically, "Eventually someone who has played a video game will kill someone." No freaking kidding. The gamer community is so eclectic and vast that of course there are going to be some criminals within it. There are also going to be choir boys and lawyers as well.


You, sir, get a cookie.

A BIG cookie.


Jack is none of those however. Well, maybe a criminal.

I'd like to protest this game too, because I thought it was a little complicated in the early stages and I kept failing the basic training mission where you throw a flash grenade in and storm some room. I must be really bad at FPS games.

"War is not a game!"

And? You seriously think people are "suckered" into being recruited because they think it is? I sincerely hope the Army's recruitment/training process would weed out such people...

It's no worse than stuff like implying chicks dig a man in uniform, that joining lets you travel the world, or paying for your education.

All useless if you get killed/injured. But they make great recruiting tools.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Off topic..

You know, I was here when he said this and I totally forgot..I know it's old but this just tickles me. This made me laugh so hard at work...

“nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you’re a hit man or a video gamer.”

I'd also like to add.."Or vice president." to that.

@Eville1: JT cannot possibly lie. Which obviously means that Cheney is either a hardcore gamer or a contract killer.

As for the topic at hand, if they were trying to be anti-Iraq then I'd say setting their sights on a video game is aiming pretty low. However, I see the point that they're more protesting the overly glamourized image of the Army that it sells in its recruiting methods.
I recall a news story long ago about how the glamorized image used in AA and other Army recruitment materials wasn't the direction they originally were going to go with. But, the slogan "U.S. Army - Join Us And You Might Not Get Killed In Action" didn't test well. Seriously, the Army is just like any other company. There's plenty of people you can probably talk to to hear about what working there is REALLY like. But any company that's hiring people is only going to talk about the good and spin any possible negatives in a positive light. I don't see why the Army should be forced to recruit in a drastically different way from everyone else. Yes, the risks involved in joining the Army are somewhat greater than those of a code monkey's job - but there's plenty of ways for you to find that out, and if you're joining the Army under the assumption that it's 100% safe, I don't think the Army alone can be blamed for your misconceptions.

@Jack Thompson

You are not this century's Nostradamus. In fact, as Shoehorn said, the protestors said video games are in no way representative of real life, therefore you cannot train on a video game, which is the exact opposite of what you said about "murder simulators"

I am more of a Nostradamus than you: I have predicted the outcome of the last four presidential elections and the race of those responsible for the attacks on September eleventh. That's five more correct predictions than you.

Nobody, even the game's promoters tries to pretend America's Army is a point-on-point simulation of real war. The game merely attempts to promote some values of the US Army through the game medium. My dad, an Army Air Assault vet of the first Gulf War, can't play Halo to save his life. He does kick some serious GLA on C&C Generals, though. The dude that first got me into gaming was a Navy Special Warfare guy who let me play Doom on his PC.

Anyone with an AKO account should check out the video game forum set up by current soldiers who game and fight, as well.

LOL at JT's instant-idiocy.

Maybe instead of making video games to recruit soldiers the army could perhaps pay their soldiers as much as the shadow corporations pay their mercs?

As far as I now merceneries get the same training, better pay and better equipment, way better medical benifits, also less legal liability...(until half a year ago that would have read NO legal liability at all...)
not sure about pension but considering how US treats veterans of old wars, I would say mercs probably have a better pension as well..

So why the hell would anyone ever join the US armed forces???? Oh yes patriotism...good for them but if I was to do my patriotic duty I would do it as a merc...

As for the game, its fun to play but somehow I am not compelled to join the army or go out and kill people... Maybe the army should stop listening to Jack Thompson and realise that the game doesn't help them at all, except maybe it brings some extra people to their website so maybe it does work better then tv commercials...

Wait...let me get this straight...did Jackie boy just admit to contradicting himself??? Four years ago he said that video games are in no way a representation of real life, can't be trained to kill from a video game...and now he's saying that GTA (a third person shooter...not first person) is a murder

This reminds me of an army recruitment ad I saw. These college-age guys were playing the latest AA game and were getting pretty into it when the the on-screen soldier turned to face them and said "Hey! You want a real challenge?". The ad then spouted the normal "join the army" crap. It was the most offensive thing I've ever seen in my life.

My point is that like many middle eastern terrorist groups, the army has now figured out that video games can be used to recruit the young and the foolish. I don't really fault veterans who have seen what war is really like for protesting this.

@JT: "Even Nostradamus has heart-attacks." "I knew it!"


Guess where Blackwater and the other PMOs get their soldiers? Retired US military. Private org's just can't put together the same kind of training the world's finest soldiers get, sorry. As to pensions, a veteran 20-year career Army soldier retiring at SFC can get about 11k (plus medical) a year until permanent retirement, after which he gets full support. Officers and distinguished soldiers can get even better. Despite whatever issues you have with the military, and despite what the unverified washouts in the video have to say, you should know that the military take care of their own.

And Blackwater? They operate on a contractual basis. Once you're off the roll, you're off the roll. And I don't think your kids get scholarships just because you worked as a merc. I checked their dental and it stinks, too.

Oh, and read JT's comment. You just agreed with him. Congrats.

I bet they already considered this, but I think it would have driven the point further if they had put people who had lost limbs in the front of the line.

America's Army seems like another tool used by recruiters to reach people. I do not really see the difference between it and those dramatic commercials on TV. If there are general disreputable recruiting techniques, those should all be addressed, while if the veterans are concerned about the war in Iraq and our reasons for entering, they should focus on those. Focusing on America's Army seems like an attention-getting technique, what other arguments are they presenting?


Run along, the grown-ups are talking.

Jim says: " should know that the military take care of their own."

Not entirely true. The military, like insurance companies, takes care the subset of "their own" that meet the requirements set forth by books of fine print. (Not that the fine print matters- they change the whole damn system to suit their needs.)

Haha, now that was great. Jackie boy just shot his own argument down! Thanks Jack, I haven't laughed that good in quite some time.

So then the whole movie War Games is um..?

And why do we constantly refer to exersises as war games as well?

You know maybe thats the problem though, we arent taking the war like it is a game.


Change the system? Is that just a general assertion you're throwing out there, or something specific? The only drop in benefits in recent memory was when Clinton bludgeoned the operating and pension budget in the 1990s.

But when the the civilians vote for cutbacks in veterans benefits (the brass never have), other organizations run by current and former military step in. Check out people like Army Emergency Relief ( ).

The point is that soldiers get what they enlisted for. Just because one can't comprehend the reason a rational individual, even with an education, signs up for life-threatening duty, doesn't mean one should totally disregard it and claim coercion or some sort of manipulation.

Colleges, corporations, and volunteer organizations alike all offer incentives and push sentimental jargon to get people to sign up. However, that doesn't mean that those who sign up are irrational, coerced zombies.

People on this site need to realize that intelligent individuals can and do join the Army for worthwhile, noble reasons. RESPECT it. Don't blind yourself to protect your ego.

As to the game? It's free, and it promotes some Army values. Nothing more.


"And why do we constantly refer to exersises as war games as well?"

Because play fighting is *totally* different from, er, play fighting...

Yeah I don't know what they're on about. Military training doesn't put you through the horrors of war either. They don't sit recruits down and show them nasty bullet wounds (unless it's the battlefield first aid training, but that just shows the aftermath, not what it looks like from the eyes of the shooter...)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I would really like to hear any current or ex-Marines comment on Jacko's appropriation of their characteristic "hooah" phrase.

Jacko has never claimed to have served in the military and although he does it all the time it seems especially egregious in a posting about military.

Or is it the army that says that? I'm no expert!


Hooah is the Army. Oorah is Marines. Booyah is Navy. And no one cares about what Air Force has to say.

Seriously though, none of my squadmates walk around saying 'hooah' in the civilian world except when on the phone with each other, so I'm gonna say that I'm 100% sure that JT never did anything with the Army.

Or really anything that benefited anyone other than himself ever.

Aren't the Rangers the best? I always thought it was them or the SEALS. How do they measure that sort of thing anyway? The least number of casualties in a unit? The mission success rate? About the only things I know about the Delta Force is from Chuck Norris movies. Being a classified special-ops unit, they're veiled in mystery. Like ninjas!

Guys, I may not like jack thompson, but he does not need to be attacked simply because he stated he was "This Century’s Nostradamus" Sounds more like jack is attempting humor then anything else. I know it is strange coming from him but he has done it a few times before on here.

Delta Force is a unit made up of the top Rangers, Green Berets, SEALs, Force Recon, EODs, UDTs, and Airborne soldiers. All are Airborne qualified, all speak another language, and all are experts with all weaponry to be encountere in their area of operation.

Watch Black Hawk Down; the Delta Force soldiers are the ones in the black helmets.

An interesting note; these helmets are not bullet proof at all. They are made out of a high quality plastic with padding. They are made by Pro-Tec, a company that also makes skateboard helmets.

Some of the greatest helmets ever made, those Pro-tec helmets.

@Wookie -- Rangers are trained heavier than "standard" Army soldiers, but they aren't trained quite to the level of Special Forces (Green Berets). SEALS and Army Special Forces (and to a point, Air Force Combat Controllers) are usually seen as equivalent in my book -- but it is not a solid standard to go by). Army Rangers and the US Marines (basically, the Dept. of the Navy "Rangers") get somewhat equivalent training (from what I've seen).

Basically, Rangers aren't the "best" -- they are somewhat more "elite", in that they get more and harder training than your typical soldier, but the "best" in the Army are the Special Forces (even more advanced training including S.E.A.R. school, something Rangers don't get trained in, IIRC), and the "best of the best" are pulled from them.

I agree with the veterans on this one. It's quite a sleezy tactic for the Armed Forces to attempt to recruit people by making military life look "cool" through a videogame. Honestly though, you'd have to be pretty damn stupid to join the Armed forces because of that.

[...] The Iraq Veterans Against War recently held a protest at the Missouri Black Expo against the first person shooter title America’s Army. The game is available free of charge to anyone. It was developed and published by the United States government for both recruitment and public relation purposes. The protesters shouted the verse “War is not a game!”, hoping that the game would no longer be distributed. [...]

I'm digging all this talk about the differences between distinct units of the armed forces. Any other interesting information?

I have to agree that this protest is not about the game, but about getting attention and making a general anti-war statement. Where have these protesters been for the last five years? The Army said from the beginning that the game was a recruitment and PR tool.

AA claims to have had 40 million downloads of the game and its patches. They say they have over 8 million registered accounts, with about half that many having completed the basic training portion. Geez, if a quarter of those people signed up, we wouldn't have any shortage of military personnel. So, yeah, the game is really making people think war is like the game.

Personally, I wonder about the group... the name seems to be taken from the "Vietnam Veterans Against The War" of old, most of whom were non-veterans but simply a strange hodgepodge of anti-war, anti-military, and pro-Marxist groups that hid behind a small handful of genuinely disillusioned military personnel (Lt. John Kerry for example).

I see nothing wrong with the game concept, even if it is somewhat sanitized... now, if they'd include more open-world adventure elements outlining base life and all that entails (including base transfers, deployment, and the difficulties of keeping personal relationships going through all of that), maybe it would be somewhat more useful than just showing them some stuff and say "this is what basic entails... this is what we do on training exercises... these are rules of engagement...". The military has every right to put their point of view out there, just as this group has the right to explain theirs.

But 90 protesters constitutes an "annual meeting" for the group? Sounds like a publicity stunt on their behalf than anything. Trolling for new members much?

@ Wesker.
Well that honestly depends on what you want to know about.

If you want a military career in the army or marines, you need to get to airborne school.

If you've got anything else you want to know, ask.

@Austin Lewis

Nothing in particular, really. Not considering a military career either. My comment was probably more along the lines of a person who would want to watch a special on the History channel or something; I liked watching the people who knew what there were talking about compare stuff. Since I don't know anything about it at all, I wouldn't know what to ask.

Jack Thompson is like the greatest videogame salesman ever.

@Austin Lewis:

And besides, isn't masturbation a sin? ... or is it that Jack believes he is the exception?

Also you do realize the 'hooah' request will fall on deaf ears (Just like any of our posts starting with @Jack/JT/Jack Thompson or any variation thereof) until someone in uniform actually sets him straight, right?

@Black Manta

Can't wait to read the headline tomorrow, if that is the case. Heck I'll make a screencap of it, even... set as background ;)

@ Jack Thompson, this century's "Nostradumbass"

Jack, do you even read this shit before posting? They're saying video games CAN'T train you to kill or shoot a gun. This is the exact opposite of what you've been saying for years.

Are you actually trying to look retarded? (Apologies to any retarded people I may have offended by comparing you to Jack Thompson. Nobody deserves that!)

@ DarkTestsuya

Actually, look over in the forums. According to reports, It's been moved back to November. :(

@Black Manta

Darn... well that would make for a great early christmas present.

that's the army, thats why marines are around cause they can't handle the job, or even a game,

[...] Approximately 90 Iraq war veterans in black shirts protested in front of a military recruitment station chanting three times: “War is not a game!” They were protesting against the Department of Defense funded America’s Army video game. The PC version, a first-person shooter, is given away for free by the Army as a recruitment more | digg story [...]

War isn't a game, but video games are a far cry from war itself. If people are so against war, then I guess kids playing cowboys and indians (sorry, I know that's not PC....oh well) or cops and robbers, heck even Batman and Robin should be stopped as well.

A game is fun and while some people might not like FPS games, then that's their prerogative, but it's a free country OK. There are plenty of soldiers currently who love military games such as Medal of Honor or Call of Duty. In fact many are waiting for the upcoming Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat, myself included. If you check out the game trailers of Call of Duty 4, there's a military adviser that's said how much some of these guys love these games.

I'm sick and tired of people trying to blame games for people killing others. If someone has killed another and they also played a FPS game, then I can guarantee you that it still would have occurred had they not played the game.

Do movies and games effect people in some way? I'm sure they do to some extent, but they are not the cause. I don't think it's gonna hold up in court, if you kill someone and say, well, I played America's Army and I did it there so I thought it was OK, or even something like a game like Manhunt 2.

I don't think kids should play these games, and it's fine if you don't like them, but many people do and because they do don't make them bad. In fact there's a Christian Gaming League that plays Call of Duty 2, Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. The Bible doesn't even allude to playing games as a sin, so don't anyone say it's wrong because it's not. I have the utmost respect for the people in the military and if they don't like these games either, that's totally fine, but don't tell me what I can or can't do! If you don't want your kids playing these types of games, that's fine and they shouldn't actually until they get a certain age, but don't you dare try to compare a game to actual killing and/or war. That's just a cheap excuse to berate the game, just because you don't like it!

I have played AA extensively.
Its very realistic in the way it shows how war is... up to a degree. There is no blood, no guts on the floor. You can get hit point blank with a RPG and you will leave a solid corpse behind.

Wounded people dont scream, they just move slower.

An interesting and perhaps insidious design move is that both sides see the other side as 'bad guys'. So if you play a map in the Middle East, the other side looks arabic, you look like US army. But the other side sees you like Arabs and they are US. Through a clever trick of programming. So if you play the game you are always US and the other side is always some colored race.


War is not a game, it's power politics. Nations wage wars to win fame, support, resources or territories - not for the fun of it.

And nothing else is happening today..
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