Army Recruiters Run Video Game Tournament

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.

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