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.