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

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” …is 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?


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  1. desperad0 says:

    Thanks; good job. I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs.

  2. oto kirlama says:

    Gallagher can araç kiralama say all he wants, but I strongly rent a car believe it’s due to his crappy leadership and E3 being a joke. ESA’s Board of Directors need to find a way to get out rent a car of this horrid contract with this Bush cronie before there’s no one left on the Board.

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing ttnet vitamin or little and need to start saving costs.


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.


  3. Some Soldier's Mom says:

    ummm… I don’t see the problem. Killing bad guys and learning how to use different weapons in different situations IS what the Army does and has always done. There is nothing new here… move along.

    It is a tool — same as posters, commercials, Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Golden Knights — to get people to consider joining the military. The military needs recruits and there are any number of ways to recruit them. This is not conscription. Signing on the dotted line is not mandatory. Joining the military is a CHOICE… made by an adult who has been given multiple opportunities to say, "No, thanks" right up to the point he/she signs their contract. I have yet to hear anyone say — I joined the militar because the posters looked so cool. Yah.

    In this day and age of freely available information of everyone’s life experiences in AND out of the military — not to mention that since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the effects, the wounded and the dead have been covered incessantly it seems a bit ignoble to claim you are surprised by them — anyone who tells you that "the recruiter lied" is either a bafoon… or a liar & whiner.

    Lastly, it goes against even average intelligence to insist that somehow a gaming experience as a child will be such an irreversible influence that it cannot be overcome by interaction in the world away from the keyboard. If such a supposition were true, we’d see a lot of people walking around believing that they are orcs, trolls, vampires, werewolves, etc. and conducting themselves in the real world according to the game rules.

    Game players who play Army video games either have an interest in the military or they just like to play video games. For those who see this as some part of a major master conspiracy?? There is just not enough tinfoil for you all.

  4. Anonymous says:

    While you can enlist at 17, you can’t start any of the process until you are 17. By the time the enlisting process is done, you go to basic training, you go to your job skill training, then you get to a unit and train up to deploy, a year has passed. I guess according to this interesting group, I must be a war criminal and should turn myself into the UN Police. When I led recruiters, I was invited to speak at a elementary school career day. So I must have been begining the indoctrinating process with my subliminal messages to 1st through 4th graders. And lets not even discuss being asked to give a class on the history of the Army in our democracy to high school students. I would be willing to respect the protesters, if they had gone after every game makers that glamorizes war. I have been there done that, so yes I know what war is. If they want to say we shouldn’t make war games then fine, but don’t mask a Iraq protest under the guise of pretesting a war game. What’s the crime rate in SF? Why not protest all games of violence? Why not go after game makers that produce games that glaomorize being in a gang and doing drive-bys. I guess next will be a call to elimnate some Mario Kart becuase you know you can through things at other players in the game, so obviously that is promoting road rage. The sad part about this protest group is that they think everyone is dumb enough not to see past their faulty logic and they on their supposed moral high ground can tell us how to think. They are people that want you to think when you agree with them and simply accept what they say when you don’t.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When I was in highschool, every year we’d have members of the various military branches attend our "college fair".  When I was in my 3rd year in highschool, that’s when the phone calls started "Hello, this is so & so with the Army, we’d like to send you some information…..", followed by the post cards and of course who could forget the TV commercials.

    With America’s Army your not getting phone calls from the military recruitment office, your not meeting recruiters in person, your not getting a ton of mail (at the tax payers expense), and your not seeing the "Army of one" commercials in the middle of 7th heaven.

    While it could be argued that the game paints a rose colored view of military service, that argument is about as valid as trying to convince me that a teen doesn’t know the difference between the "Cartoon Mickey Mouse" and the "Guy in the mickey mouse coustume at Disney World".  America’s army is a game, they aren’t going to show you a guy cleaning a parking lot of bird poop with a tooth brush because he mouthed off to his boot camp sargent.  They aren’t going to show you the 1001 jobs in the military who’s main goal isn’t "Shoot that guy", there are the computer specialists, the communications people, UAV operators, maintenance workers, etc.  Why? because that’s simply not fun.

  6. Anonymous says:

    NM, it seems that free speech only applies to them. They’d rather censor their comments section by leaving all comments in "waiting review" limbo. Fascists.

  7. wehrgeist says:

    You can technically join at 16 with parental permission. That won’t ever happen however. 17 Maybe. Does anyone remember the San Fran protests of fleet week? Look it up, It’s buried. Most of the return’s are refuting the protest… Now. Oh yeah and how about these pricks… Westboro Baptist Church. I spent 6 years on a submarine to protect this country and these people still leave a horrid taste in my mind. I have to protect their rights, but I still reserve my right to want to stomp them into the dirt.





    Trust is the sound of death.

  8. Anonymous says:

    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.

    Seriously…if DASW wants to take UBI Soft to task with the UNOP i suggest going after all the parents, grandparents, friends and family who’ve spoke great things about the military and encouraged(not intently)their younger sublings to join when of age.  I mean c’mon, when your dad or grandpa sat you down and told you of a war story or of a time in the service of when he did something heroic, great, astonishing to a young kid…didn’t that wanna make you be just like him? 

  9. TheEdge says:

    It’s actually kinda a GOOD thing the U.N. isn’t to involved,seeing as how every frickin’ time they get involved in ANYTHING,it just gets worse.Like Darfur,they have "peacekeeping" forces over there,and look how good a job they’re doing!Sorry,but seeing as how the U.N. is quite possibly the worst the taxpayers have ever had to put up with(the others being Bush’s trillion-dollar spending spree on prescription drugs and "No Child Left Behind" ),I honestly can’t think of a single good thing to say about the U.N.Did I mention that they have raped the people they’re supposed to be protecting(i.e. making them strip for food,and forced sexual services)?

  10. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Since when did genocide piss the UN off?  Hell, it’s happening in at least 2 parts of the world right now that I can think of off the top of my head, and the UN is going on like it’s a beautiful world…possibly thinking that they should put some dictatorship in charge of human rights yet again and coming up with more reasons why they hate their largest contributor (USA).

  11. Erik ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I thought it took a little more than that.  Like invading a country based on totally bogus evidence.  And then by "freeing" the people they are free to do what they always wanted.  Wage a bloody civil war on one another.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Remember kids, you only get freedom of speech if your group is a bunch of unemployed people with nothing better to do than go to protests.

  13. TheEdge says:

    I don’t know about you guys and gals,but anything that pisses off the U.N. is cool to me(except genocide,of course).I mean,all you really have to do is be an American,and they’re mad.Easy!

  14. Erik ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    …Wow these guys are kind of dumb.  Playing a game is NOT recruitment.  A 13 year old can play the game but if they walk into a recruitment office they will be turned away.  I swear it is the nongamers who are having difficulty seperating fantasy from reality.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Their story DOES have a comments section, however it’s moderated, and the post I tried to make when it first came out is still awaiting "review".  Guess they didn’t like it when actual research was thrown in their faces.

    One of the most key features of the Optional Protocol which they fail to mention is this recruitment they keep talking about is in reference to COMPULSORY recruitment.  You know, the kind where you have no choice in the matter.  Last time I checked, when you play the game you aren’t then forced to join the military.  This UN accord was created to try and stop children from being forced into armed service, not to stop them from being given information with which they can then make an informed decision when they reach the proper age.

    And Ubisoft has "decided" to end their contract?  That’s laughable.  It was more likely terminated.  Look at the abysmal performance of their Xbox 360 adventure that was True Soldiers.  I think they sold 3 or 4 copies.  Metacritic of 43%, ouch.

    Whats even funnier is that they think that by attacking some video game developers, it’s going to have any sort of meaningful impact on the war.  I guess they might not get those extra 4 soldiers.  Dang.

  16. Alex says:

    So, I’m curious. By this logic, should the Junior ROTC program be illegal too? A friend of mine was in Junior ROTC all four years of high school and joined the Air Force as soon as he graduated. Why don’t they go protest that? It’s much more of a recruitment tool than video games.

  17. Anonymous says:

    There’s really only one word that sums up my feelings about these idiots right now



  18. Vinzent ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    First of all, the army cannot accept applicants under the age of 17 (I believe, could be 16). So claiming this is a recruitment tool aimed at children only works if the army is atively recruiting children, dumba$$e$.

    Second, if their train of logic is valid, then any film, movie, or book that glorifies war is also a violation of the UN law. And forget about teaching children history! Don’t you understand that by glorifying General Washington’s acheivements in the Revolutionary War may drive children to join the Army?

  19. Artifex says:

    You know, there are other studios that worked on America’s Army far before Ubisoft was involved in making a version for the xbox, studios that are not in San Fran. But I guess that this group is only concerned about their cause as long as it is convienient for them.

    Also ‘Hiroshima day’?? Tasteless much?

  20. Carda says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t this strike anyone else as yet another case of "lol, silly rabbit, video games are for kids" idiocy?

  21. Krono says:

    Anyone care to bet those 4 out 100 had a whole pile of other reasons stacked behind the game that just weren’t inquired about?

    It just strikes me as the sort of thing likely to have a lot of qualifiers attached.


  22. Belgarion89 says:

    I’m pretty sure he’s right, acutally.  It takes a certain amount of crazy to join the military in the middle of an unpopular war.


  23. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure that you’re below average intelligence.

    It’s nice to be able to state facts with no evidence, just informal studies.

  24. Belgarion89 says:

    As someone who went to Basic at Ft. Benning, I can testify that those numbers are bull fucking shit.  Most soldiers haven’t even haerd of the game, much less did it affect their decision to get shot at for a living.  Besides, AA is a HORRIBLE FPS, there are much better ways to go around pretending to shoot stuff.  Hell, the jailtime for doing it IRL is more fun.

  25. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Tell those 4 out of 100 people to stop confusing the ways and rules of the game with the ways and rules of reality.


    -Entertainment isn’t the reason the world sucks. It’s the reason we know the world sucks. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard researchers Larry Kutner&Cheryl Olson

  26. Unruly ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And that’s why in my freshman year of high school I was 15 and getting approached by recruiters for Marines, Army, and Air Force. "Hey, you look like you’d enjoy some adventure. Join the Marines and see the world." "Hey, you like working with computers? The Air Force is one of the world’s largest users of computers and technology. Join us and we’ll teach you everything."

    And yes, they did pitch corny lines like that all the way through to my senior year.

  27. chadachada(123) says:

    Um…well over half of high school students are under 17….so half of kids are not fair game, right?

  28. Anonymous says:

    ..and so are the average aged gamers who probably play Americas Army.  High School has kids under 17 too and this group does not make a deal about that.

  29. chadachada(123) says:

    In middle school, our class took this big anonymous survey about what kids like and do and stuff, and I wrote down that I did drugs, drank, had sex, everything, because I thought the survey was a joke

  30. SS says:

    yep the margin of error for surveys done with 1500 people and a 95% confidence interval is 3%.  I don’t remember much more from my stats class.  and if its a informal study its probably even more innacurate.

    And what’s betting that some recruits wrote that down as an answer as a joke.

    But I would not find it surprising if the results were true considering the lowering of standards in recruitment.

  31. Anonymous says:

    In other breaking news, the NRA reports that 4 out of 100 gun owners credit Duke Nukem for their desire to own personal rocket launchers. . .


    Give me a break – 4 out of 100 is important?  4%????  That’s probably the margin of error if the survey was done properly!

  32. Tom says:

    I’ve got to agree with SS.  I’m not going to trust an "informal study" referred to by a protest group used to bolster their already shaky position.

    To the actual question at hand, though, I suppose that the main point is going to be whether America’s Army is a game first or a recruiting tool first.  Personally, I consider it a game first, albeit one that is explicitly designed to present the army in the best possible light.  I haven’t played it in ages and so I forget if they have direct links to recruiting sites in the game itself, but if they do then that would muddy the waters.

  33. SS says:

    IN another informal study it was found that 4 out of 100 army recruits had serious mental issues.

    Oh and its a "informal" study.  Show me the methodology and i might believe it. 



  34. Xveers says:

    The most probable reason they haven’t ended their contract is because it was originally written with that expirey date. I’d be very suprised if it did not have some clauses for unilateral cancellation (most contracts do, and they are, more often than not, quite painful on the company that walks away from it early. It’s also a rather big black mark on them as well, from a trust perspective. Later investors and possible business partners can argue with some success that they might not respect their contracts that they legally bound themselves to).

  35. GryphonOsiris says:

    I guess this is one of those cases of don’t confuse the issue with the facts. Most of these groups are willing to say just about anything that sounds like it might be convincing in order to persuade people into believing them. Case in point, the idiots tree-sitting at UC Berkeley are trying to say that a bunch of landscaping trees planted back in 1923 are an ‘old growth’ woods and an Indian Burial grounds. Both are out right lies. In this case, they are angry about something having to do with the military (who knows, maybe they hated Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now) and are trying to hit the miltary in some bizarre Third Echelon manner through this game.

    All things considered, the game itself is a poor recruitment tool, as you are more likely to get more recruits with promises of career training, college scholarships, vocational courses, and patriotism. The funny thing was in USAF basic our TI’s kept taunting people during sit-ups saying they’d do a proper one if there was a videogame (or doughnut) between their knees.

    This group has it wrong, gamers and recruiters aren’t out of touch with reality, these people are.


    "The Good, the Bad, and Videogame"
    Reviews on the best, worst, and controversial issues of Videogames.

  36. Shoehorn O'Plenty says:

    Imagine if you were an army recruiter, a person charged with reviewing new recruits as to their suitability for becoming members of the armed forces of your country. As such they will be responsible for many people’s safety, be heavily armed with sophisticated weapons and technology and be expected to perform in hostile conditions.

    Now imagine some guy comes in and says he wants to join the army because "I played that video game and it was awesome!". I don’t know about anyone else, but personally I would tell that person to get out of my sight because they have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

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