The New Military Recruitment System
This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Gaming class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.
The military has been known to use many different mediums to try to increase the number of new recruits each year. With the changes in how people today, especially young people, get their information, how does the military address this? The answer is, through video games. The Army presents a false depiction of war to persuade young people to join the military.
The United States' Army created the popular game franchise "America's Army" in 2002. America's Army is, I admit, a very fun first-person shooter genre game that leads the player, living vicariously as an Army recruit, through the ranks (from a Recruit in Basic Training to a Sergeant Major). I wanted to explore this game a little bit more to get a sense of how the Army is advertising their game to a younger demographic.
To get to the video game, which is actually free to download, you must first go to americasarmy.com. The front page of the site displays a front view of an American soldier in full gear, running and carrying his trusty M-4. As you go a little deeper into the page there are links to popular websites, such as YouTube.com and Facebook, showing off the Official America's Army YouTube channel and videos of players gunning down enemy soldiers. There is also a link showing the America's Army graphic novel and that it is "Available Now!" The use of websites such as these shows that the Army is trying to recruit a younger group of people.
Now lets try to sign-up for the actual game! To register an account all you have to do is put in very simple information and that is it. Then, just download the game and you can play, how simple. It is almost too easy, and in exchange for the rights to play this government subsidized game, all you have to do is give the Army some personal information so they can "contact you about your gaming experience," of course. Well then why is it that ever since I signed up for the original America's Army I have been receiving massive quantities of recruitment material? Must just be a coincidence I guess.
The American Army offers a free online first-person shooter to the general public, which is very generous, but at what cost? The Army depicts glorified battle situations to persuade young people to join. The Army needs recruits, but at the same time also need to properly inform these recruits about the true aspects of war, not this false world they show. You can play again when you die in the game, but that is not so in reality.