Philly Columnist Defends Army’s Video Game Recruitment Center

The Army’s use of video games to promote recruitment has been a source of controversy in recent times. Most recently, GamePolitics reported on a large-scale protest march at the Army Experience Center, located at a Philadelphia mall.

Taking the opposing view ot that of the protesters, attorney Christine Flowers defends the AEC in a Memorial Day weekend column for the Philadelphia Daily News:

A few [military] vets have been on the front lines in targeting the Army Experience Center… AEC incorporates high-tech virtual experiences, more traditional media and one-on-one interaction to reach young men and women who might be considering a life in the service…

According to Maj. Larry Dillard, the center’s program manager, the fundamental purpose is to give young people a more realistic and authentic idea of what it means to be a soldier in the 21st century. "The virtual experience allows for transparency, and is more effective in communicating our message than still photos or written materials."…

WHAT’S SO insidious?…

It is only because of [our military personnel’s] sacrifices that the protesters have the right to raise their voices. It is only because of their willingness to believe in something greater than themselves, a collective sense of duty and obligation, that we have a country where dissent is privileged.

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  1. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    Your reading skills suck. Evidently, I will have to spell it out for you:

    didn’t say "soldiers don’t literally swear to protect the constitution" as you claimed when you called me a moron, but that "soldiers don’t literally swear to protect the government". I was, in essence, acknowledging the fact that soldiers don’t swear to defend the government like I said in my original post, but that swearing on the Constitution is really just a way to lend an air of justice to what ultimately amounts to defending the US government and its interests. I was agreeing that they swear on the Constitution, but disagreeing on the claim that their job is to protect the US Constitution rather than the US government and its interests.

  2. 0
    Paladin says:

    I saw what you wrote, and it’s pretty clear. You seem to think that soldiers are thugs for the government, that they don’t believe in the oath they take. I think the moron tag fits you pretty good. Just live with it.

  3. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    "They do literally swear to defend the constitution. They always have. Get a little education."

    When calling somebody else a moron for a perceived mistake it is probably a good idea to make sure you know what they actually wrote. I suggest you take a closer look at the post you’re replying to.

  4. 0
    Paladin says:

    Ok, moron, here is the Oath of Enlistment:

    I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.[1]


    They do literally swear to defend the constitution. They always have. Get a little education.

  5. 0
    Seiena_Cyrus says:

    Ummmmmm….technically…what happened after the first WTC bombing? 9/11…is what happened…they openly attacked because they thought we were a weak target because we for a long time basically turned the other cheek at nations…lets not get too unrealistic here…you -DO- have to put up a strong front or the big bully in school will throw you head first into the garbage can.

  6. 0
    Paladin says:

    Ylou are a moron. Soldiers swear to defend the CONSTITUTION, not the government. lawyers have made no such promise. They have not sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. In fact, lawyers have been at the forefront to remove those freedoms. That’s what this very site reports just about every day! It is only through the blood and sacrifice of this nations soldiers that the constitution is anything more than a mere scrap of paper.

  7. 0
    KaylaKaze says:

    It’s called the National Guard. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect the "homeland." Apart from a relatively small group of elite soldiers, there should be no military except the National Guard, and the National Guard should never be leaving the US, unless there’s a WW2 level war going on which takes the entire economic and personnel might of the country. If you want to "fight terrorists" you do what we’ve always done previously: you use police work, not war. What happened after the first WTC bombing? We used police work, caught and imprisoned those involved. There were no wars. Bush’s wars have done nothing but increase the number of terrorists. If China invaded the US using the same tactics the US used to invade Afganistan and Iraq, you better believe I’d be an "insurigent" and I’d hope you would to.

  8. 0
    JDKJ says:

    If the United States wanted to defend civil rights, maybe a better strategy than the one currently employed would be to recognize that the citizens of the countries invaded and occupied also have civil rights which should be respected. Something about the old "I’m here defending my civil rights by making damn sure that you don’t have any" strategy strikes me as not having worked out too well. 

  9. 0
    Seiena_Cyrus says:

    Question….and this is just hypothetical.


    Okay we abolish Soldiers…or keep them in our boarders….here comes happy little I dunno Communist, religious Zealot take your pick, along and invades your country…defeats your soldiers or in the case of no soldiers just waltzes in and takes over. Who exactly is defending your right to freedom of speech? If your soldiers are not protecting your freedom and rights from outside forces?


    The answer is? No one…without the soldiers or without enough soldiers you become another part of their regime…they strip you of your constitution and you are left with none of the rights and freedom you had before.


    There is your logic that you all wanted, and you know darn well that there are other countries chomping at the bit to over run our country and humble us ‘barbarians’.

  10. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    Soldiers don’t literally swear to protect the government, but let’s not kid ourselves: The fact is their job is to protect the US government and its interests. Swearing to defend the Constitution just makes it all sound nicer — more democratic.

    As for lawyers, I think you’ll find they come in many "flavors". Some lawyers will represent the government’s interests, while others will represent the interests of the citizens affected by government policy. There’s two sides for every legal claim, and plenty of lawyers willing to represent each side. The ones I admire are the ones who consistently stand up for citizens’ rights.

    Like I said: we owe our freedom of speech to the Founding Fathers, to the lawyers who fight for the right to speak freely, and to the judges who arrive at decisions consistent with the freedom the US claims to represent.

  11. 0
    c0nn3ry says:

    Unfortunately for your position, soldiers in fact are not only not required to follow illegal orders, they are expressly forbidden from following illegal orders and can be prosecuted for doing so, as was the case in the Abu Ghraib trials.

    This is beat into soldiers’ heads from basic training onwards, and soldiers are taught to both seek responsibility, and take responsisbility for their actions.  The argument of ‘just following orders’ when committing illegal acts is an argument of cowardice.

    Following legal orders however, whether the soldier likes the orders or not, is indeed their duty, and is also part of the oath taken on enlistment and commission.

    And back to the ‘soldiers defend your right to object, so don’t object to them’ statement.  You are correct, it is an idiotic argument to make, but only because of the last half of the statement.  Like it or not, the existence of a strong military, as a deterrant, as force protection, as an offensive force used to topple regimes, and so on, is what allows you to have not just the right to free speech, but all the rights guaranteed to you as a U.S. citizen, whether you use them wisely or not.  As a veteran, I applaud civil debate on any issue, even when I don’t agree, and abhor knee-jerk rhetoric, even (perhaps even especially) when I do agree.  It lets me know that what my men and I did was for something worthwhile.

    — Moderation in all things, including moderation.

  12. 0
    questionmark1987 says:

    While I’m not really on one side or the other as far as this specific issue (military recruitment using videogames) I am getting sick and tired of hearing the "If it wasn’t for the military you couldn’t object." arguement being thrown out as a way to try and silence those who don’t agree with military actions or policies.

    Just because the military is SUPPOSED to protect our freedoms, it doesn’t mean they always are. They are carrying out orders, in many cases in conflict with those freedoms because that’s the only way to make america "safe". Safe doesn’t necessarily equal free.

    In case anyone is wondering, I think as long as a soldier follows orders they are doing as they should. I wish we had a perfect world where a soldier could say "No I believe that is wrong" and not do the order and have no real consequence. But we don’t. So soldiers following orders is in my eyes good. The people I blame for the bad stuff are the administration and leadership giving the orders. They are the ones who SHOULD be held accountable for the actions of the military that are wrong or the mistakes that are made. To put it into computer terms which removes the human empathy aspect, you don’t fire the computer for following bad programming and not giving you the desired effect, you fire the programmer who wrote the code wrong.

  13. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    I think that was more of a positive and appropriate response.

    Also I like how the spokesperson said that people in this country have every right to protest if they believe they are fighting for something more than themselves.

    At the same time, the people who are running the Army Education Centre also have a right to still run the education centre when they law sees that they are doing nothing wrong.


    So it is a fair 50/50 argument.


    All I would say, is that Army Recuitment is there just so when there is a war that breaks out, there will be people who will be there who are trained enough to confront that sort of situration so therefore there will never be any of those siturations where young men and women would have to be forced to go to war like they were in World War 1, 2 and the Korean and Vietnam wars that happened last centuary.

    At the same time, I don’t like war, I hate real war. But I find allot to like with war in Videogames because it can be like a good roleplay and even a good reflection of the horrors of war underneeth all the health pickups and lives that are needed in a Videogame to finish.

  14. 0
    Rohin says:

    "All I would say, is that Army Recuitment is there just so when there is a war that breaks out, there will be people who will be there who are trained enough to confront that sort of situration so therefore there will never be any of those siturations where young men and women would have to be forced to go to war like they were in World War 1, 2 and the Korean and Vietnam wars that happened last centuary."


    The advantage of a draft army was that the military did not require a continuous presense and cost, maintaining only a small core of highly trained troops. When war broke out, those elegible for service could be called up and trained.

    This also has the advantage of requiring every war the nation gets involved with be one the people of the nation want to get involved in – it is, after all, you who would be fighting and dying. Hence the rigorous examinataion and justification of US wars up until Vietnam where, due to massive public protest, the draft was ended.

    Ending the draft lessened the protest against the ‘police action’ in Vietnam considerably, and now people don’t get as worked up because it’s volunteers who are fighting and dying for others. When it’s someone you don’t know, you can be sanguine. When it could be you, you take a lot more interest in why your country is going to war.

    A draft army is cheaper, can call up as many troops as are needed (instead of relying on recruitment), forces citizens to examine the justification for every war they are involved in and keeps the productive youth of society in the civilian working life and contributing directly to society.

  15. 0
    sirdarkat says:

     Theres this thing called sarcasm doesnt trasnmit well in written form especially on forums or comment pages when million of idiots can post maybe you have seen it before; jackass.

  16. 0
    JDKJ says:


    Did you miss the news reports of a terrorist plot to fly a 747 into the First Amendment? Waddaya think we’ve been doing over in Iraq and Afghanistan? We’re making sure the First Amendment remains beyond the reach of terrorists. It may be called the War on Terror but it’s really the War to Protect the First Amendment.

  17. 0
    sirdarkat says:

    Calling BS; Iraq has been proven over and over to have nothing to do with the Terrorists;  Iraq was a they threatened my daddy because he threatened them war and nothing more Stop trying to use it when justifying the War on Terror because all it does is make you look dumb and ignorant of your current surroundings. 

  18. 0
    c0nn3ry says:

    One thing that might be interesting to note about the above thread.

    If you feel like criticizing the military’s recruiting methods, go ahead. You have the rights granted to you by the Constitution, and whether you like hearing it or not, yes they are protected by the military and the oath every service member takes.

    If you feel like criticizing the the wars the military fights, or the rules of engagement given to the military during those wars, then get involved in politics. The best thing about the U.S. Military? Despite our considerable power, knowledge, skills, and pride, there’s never been a coup. I’m personally a fan of Heinlein’s scenario in Starship Troopers where you’re not a citizen, and therefore have no vote, until you’ve done federal service (military, inner city teaching, public clinic, postal worker, whatever).  But that’s not what the Constitution says, and that’s what I defended for 10 years.  Not any single administration or government (For the record I’m a fiscal conservative, social liberal who hates the Neo-Conservative movement and is registered independent).

    So, quit blaming the soldiers for the war. Its a good career with benefits that you can carry throughout your life, including in the civilian sector, and those who choose it should be honored and respected by the citizens they defend. They don’t make foreign policy, they enforce it.

    — Moderation in all things, including moderation.

  19. 0
    c0nn3ry says:

    While the points you make about a draft army forcing a deeper consideration of justification for war by the public at large seem intuitive, they aren’t borne out by history.  Vietnam being the primary example, as the lower economic classes were drafted into the enlisted ranks while those more priviledged used  exemptions or signed up for the officer corps in non-combat specialties.  Obviously these are generalizations, but I’m trying to point out that the draft is in no way the silver bullet you make it out to be.

    More importantly to me as a veteran when considering the draft argument is that conscript forces are vastly inferior.  Every soldier I served with (and I was an infantryman for 10 years) was of the same opinion, that we’d rather have soldiers to our left and right who’d signed up voluntarily.  Conscript forces (as evidenced by the Soviet Army) are less well trained, and due to a smaller percentage of career soldiers, have less ‘blooded’ soldiers at any given time as well as a higher operational cost of training, since some percentage of the army is completely new every two years but without the continuity of a Non-Commissioned Officer Corps that is more professional than other militaries’ Officer corps.

    While it may seem better on paper to have a draft, for the reasons you mentioned above, and for others you missed, such as engendering a more widespread sense of respect and understanding for our service members, I can tell you having served, that soldiers who don’t want to be there bring down morale and efficiency and are moved into positions where that effect can be minimized as quickly as possible, or simply expelled from the service.  If those soldier made up the greater percentage of the Armed Forces, the professionalism, esprit de corps, and superior competence that our military is known for, even with its very public mistakes, would be decimated.

    With respect.

    — Moderation in all things, including moderation.

  20. 0
    Breakerchase says:

    Have you seen or played Armed Assault or Operation Flashpoint? It’s nothing like the Call of Duty crap that gets handed out to feed the action-game junkies.

  21. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    They have, at most recruiting centers these days, a list of videos that they show people interested in enlisting.  They show any MOS the recruit might be interested in, to give them a feel of what they can be doing or might be doing, as well as what they’ll have to go through to get there.  Some of them are on the internet; I know a friend sent me the 11x video a week ago from youtube, and I’ll bet you can find the rest there if you look. 

    The AEC has the same videos, and I’ve heard they have interviews from actual military personnel, plus information on housing and the various bases one can be stationed at.  This gives a far more realistic (and far more informative and truthful) picture of military life than most of the protesters would like to give out.

    That’s what they’re talking about, not playing games.  Playing games seems to be more of a team-building/confidence-building activity, and just a fun thing to do.  It’s pretty obvious that HALO 3 isn’t a good example of Army life.

    Also, the AEC hosts a lot of GED classes, helping high-school dropouts get their highschool diploma.

  22. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    If the army is having people play video games to get a more authentic view of being a soldier, then I don’t see how it is anything but propoganda.

    But that is not what Maj. Dillard said and you know it. He said it was designed to be a more effective communication tool.

    The only thing that can truly be like being a real soldier is being a real soldier. Do you promote the idea of forcing everyone who turns 18 to serve in the military in order for them to decide if they want to be in the military? Because under your ideals, that would be the only way to get people to join.

    All this stuff that the military does in recruitment is not meant to hide or obfusticate the realities of war such as death and permanate handicap. Sure recruiters are not eager to share those aspects of military service, but they will not avoid the quetion if you ask.

    Sure you can call anything any group does to positively promote their services propaganda. That is all it is. ut you attract more flies with honey as the saying goes.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  23. 0
    Timbo says:

    This is the part that worries me about this whole thing:

    "According to Maj. Larry Dillard, the center’s program manager, the fundamental purpose is to give young people a more realistic and authentic idea of what it means to be a soldier in the 21st century. ‘The virtual experience allows for transparency, and is more effective in communicating our message than still photos or written materials.’" 

    I don’t think video games are anything like being a real soldier.  Video game combat is nothing like real combat and dealing with programmed individuals s nothing like dealing with real life people.  If the army is having people play video games to get a more authentic view of being a soldier, then I don’t see how it is anything but propoganda.

  24. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    Here’s a big question: what exactly DO they use in that center? Normal games? Simulations? Other tools? Sure, Flight Simulator is a game, but when pilots train on them it’s not a game for them.

  25. 0
    Timbo says:

    "But that is not what Maj. Dillard said and you know it. He said it was designed to be a more effective communication tool."

    I am aware of what he said, but how exactly is playing a game a more effective communication tool about what it is like being a soldier?  The only way I can think that it would be moe effective is in using the immersion of video games to create a more vicarious experience within the player, so that they feel they are ‘being’ a soldier.  Also, here is some direct evidence that the AECs are using games to attempt to express soldier authenticity, as they claim to do it on their website:

    "Volunteer for a mission and become part of the action.  After a quick briefing by a real Army Soldier, you can operate one of three simulators, which bring to life an authentic battle scenario with equipment modeled after genuine Army weapon systems and effects synched to the virtual scenario."

    How is claiming a simulator "brings to life an authentic battle scenario" not using games to try to express battle authenticity?


    Also, I wouldn’t promote the idea forcing everyone to join the army so that everyone can see what it is like to be a soldier and I don’t see how that is the only way to get people to join under my ‘ideals’.

    My ‘ideals’ as you claim would be to give potential recruits a straight forward, honest repsonse for what it is like to be a soldier.  Telling recruits that they won’t know what it is like to be in combat unless they are there, showing pictures and telling stories of comraderie among troops as well as the horrors of wars.  Use real life stories, movies and pictures of both and good to give a balanced perspective.  Knowing the bad shouldn’t be something the potential recuit has to ask, it should be something the recruiter tells them up front.  Joining the army should be a conscious, informed, reflected upon decision, but many of the recruitment techniques seem to treat the decision likes it’s a buying a new TV.

    The reason I call it propoganda is that it is purposefully presents information on one side of a viewpoint, while making it harder to access information from an opposing viewpoint.  It’d be like a news station only showing a liberal argument and telling you that you can go to the website to see the conservative argument.

  26. 0
    Timbo says:

    The link I posted in the previous post has a lot of info about what types of games and simulations they have.

    Most of the games are first person shooters that aren’t directly army related,with the two labeled exceptions being WOW and Madden.

    As for the simulations, one is flying an apache helicopter in a combat simulation, one is piloting aBlack Hawk condusting ‘air and ground operations’ while another is driving an HMMWV in a coambat simulation.

  27. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    Thank you for pointing that out. I was about to suggest the same thing.

    The fact is the modern US Army keeps getting involved in foreign conflicts that have nothing at all to do with defending Americans’ constitutional rights, and in any case they are not the ones who uphold and enforce the First Amendment.

    We owe our free speech rights not to soldiers, but to the men who wrote the constitution, the lawyers who’ve fought and continue to fight in court to defend our rights against the wishes of the very government the Army is sworn to protect, and the judges who recognize and apply the Bill of Rights whenever they reach a decision.

  28. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    Agreed. People that use that argument are cowards in my perspective, that prefer throwing around a bullshit argument over actual using of logic, reason, INTELLIGENCE.

    People still have the right to disagree with the METHODS the army uses. If the army decides to take 14-year old into the army by draft, should people shut up because the army protects them? If the army decides to use brute force and threat every citizen who didn’t evacuate as an enemy, shooting most of them, should people shut up about that? "Yeah but that’s way more than this", so tell me, where do you draw the line? What happens to the slope people often mention when it comes to laws?

    I really despise that type of argument.

  29. 0
    MaskedPixelante says:

    That line, "the military defends your right to protest"… I hate that line… it’s in my top 5 most hated lines (Just slightly under "Stop complaining about our lack of content, we’re doing this for free, you know.")

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  30. 0
    Father Time says:

    I think that’s a stupid line too it would be like the police saying ‘you can’t criticize us we keep you safe from crime’


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  31. 0
    USMC Colonel James Slate says:

    I think it’s a quite fair arguement really, the simulators do what they are suppose to do, simulate.


    As for the earlier posts about hating the phrase, the military defends you right to protest, sorry boys, but it’s true, we do, not in the shut up, I’m defending you way, but if you didn’t have us, what would you do, really, think about it.

    You and another thing on a different note, I want to know why people hate the military so much, when they know so little about it, it seems that our biggest critics are people that have never once stepped foot on a military installation, much less done anything with the military. Hell, if you knew more about us, you’d know how that most of the stuff you bitch about when it comes to us is because of exactly what you are doing.  Personally, I hold to the, You can’t criticize it until you’ve done it for 5 years or more, and you’ve done more than one aspect, I do it for construction, I do it for law, and I do it for the military, cause I’ve been in all those for at least 5 years.

  32. 0
    sirdarkat says:

    Thats a very poor stance to have.

    I have no problem with the concept of the Military as being there to protect us and allow our freedoms to exist; granted the last time they were actually used for that was World War II maybe the Cold War as a threat deterant(sp) but since then they have pretty much been used for bullying other nations (this is excluding our humanitiarn actions; which we do use the military for)

    What I do have a problem with is the 5 year concept; if we held this concept then we would never question/criticize our government as most of us have never served as a state senator and Im betting even less of us have served as president (unless you are really old and part of the 44 club).  We would never question/criticize doctors so no need for a second opinion as any doctor is better than you since you havent done it for 5 years.  How about those 5 police officers that decided to beat the crap out of an unconcious guy no need to criticize that I have never been a police officer so that is all A-Ok also. Do you see where this stance in life is a bad stance yet or are you really that brain washed?

    No still don’t see a problem well then how about this I have never served as an officer in the Military but I was enlisted does that mean I should not question/criticize orders that go against my nature and ethics because if you hold that belief then you must also believe that orders in Vitenam to cleanse entire villages were acceptable orders and the soldiers did the right thing by not questioning it (you also would be in jail because the whole I was just following orders line doesn’t work due to the above).


  33. 0
    Rohin says:

    So no-one can criticise the government, unless they have worked in office?

    Come to that, why are you criticising people criticising the military? Have you had 5 years experience criticising the military?

    Get off your high horse. The US military is not defending anyone’s rights right now, especially not mine – we have our own military to do so, and there aren’t any threats to such right now, and haven’t been since the ‘cold war’.

    Also, why are you assuming no-one who is criticising the military has served in such? Most of the veterans I know despise any military action but defense of their nation, or another nation who has requested aid.

    "I’m defending you way, but if you didn’t have us, what would you do, really, think about it."

    You’re a veteran of World War 2?

  34. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    One more time for all the people who seem to miss it every other time an article like this comes out:

    These simulators are not meant to convey EVERYTHING that being a soldier is like. It was not designed to. That was never what it was meant to be. It was designed to create a safe environment needed to show the necessity of some of the other aspects of army combat beyond death and loss. Team work, chaos of the battle field etc. 

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  35. 0
    Tom says:

    The 11X video?  I can only imagine that it showed our primary mission, landscaping and janitorial work.  11 Bang-bang, the Army’s combat cleaners!

    In all seriousness, though, the recruiters are trying to sell a product, just like any other recruiter for any other job out there.  Is it propoganda?  Of course.  If they wanted to show anyone Army life it would go something like this: "I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored, Holy shit that was cool!, I’m bored, I’m bored, this sucks, I’m bored, this really sucks, I’m scared, I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m in the front leaning rest again."  Like any other part of our consumer existence, the military advertisements are going to work on certain segments of the population and not others – it’s the nature of the beast.  So long as they’re not tricking 14 year olds into signing their lives away there’s not really a problem.  Once they start pulling crap like that, well, then there are issues.

    Also, our Army’s at strength for the first time in awhile.  We’re not going to be looking for crazy amounts of recruits anymore.

    Oh, one more thing: Airborne school?  Nothing like in America’s Army.  I was very unprepared.

  36. 0
    sirdarkat says:

     I think that is an accurate description of the experience I had in the Army.  Maybe add in a little god what the hell did they do go on lunch break and forget they left us in parade rest.


  37. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    If you thought Airborne School would be like America’s Army, you may need to re-evaluate a few things.  Just be happy that you didn’t end up like that song the 82nd Airborne guys used to sing, ‘Blood on the Risers’.

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