The Case FOR Video Games as an Army Recruitment Tool Part Two


Wow.  In part one of my article, I asked for your thoughts on a clearly divisive and complicated issue.  Boy did I ever get some.  I heard from you, our loyal readers.  I heard from ex-military vets.  I heard from former recruits.  I even heard from Al-Jazeera!  But, perhaps most notably I heard from fellow PNG’er Pete Irace in the form of his counter-point article:  The Case AGAINST Video Games as an Army Recruitment Tool.

Get ready Pete, this one may go on for a while.

While I respect the amount of research you put into your rebuttal, I can’t help but come away with one overriding impression that I took away from your piece:  disappointment.

Ok, so where do I start? 

I couldn’t help but be struck by one abundant theme of your entire article, and that is that War is hell.  Brutal death and horrific life long terror is but a bullet away. 

Of course.  In a related topic, water is wet.  No one, not the government, not the Army, not a recruiter, and I dare say not even a realistic recruit would beg to differ.  Of course a world with LESS war, a less militaristic society would be a better place. Unfortunately, this is not the world that we currently occupy.  We need people standing on the front lines to protect us and I think you would agree. 

Now, while we need these young brave people on the front lines to protect us, it would truly be a tragedy if they were there through some sort of deceit.  This is precisely what you hear the protesters claiming over and over again in the video supplied in my first article, the most memorable of these being Iraq veteran Jesse Hamilton proclaiming “I am utterly disgusted that the Army which I love… has resorted to such a deceiving recruiting strategy.”  Well what would make it deceiving?  Glorifying war definitely would be deceiving.  But you and I have agreed that the AEC is not doing that. 

So what does that leave?  Well, there’s your agrument that the tech simulators don’t present the horrors of war, the absolute reality.  Well, I can’t dispute that while the simulators do show you and your squadmates die, they don’t show dismemberments and people turning into a pasty sludge.  You really think that’s going to do anything to deter possible recruits?  Who has been sheltered to the point that they haven’t seen that on the internet, in an average action movie, or even in Saving Private Ryan.  It’s still on a screen sir.  Until you lay those bloody entrails out in front of their faces, digital blood isn’t going to deter anyone.  Not to mention, I doubt you could get away with that in a mall, which conveniently ties into my next point. 

The AEC is positioned inside a mall.  Why?  To escape the crowded confines of  a dank glorified closet that has traditionally been the habitat of military recruiters and get out to the families.  This way Mom and Dad, Bro and Sis can pop in to also hear what the Army recruiter is telling young Johnny what this profession has in store.  In my experience with military veterans, there is no bigger opponent to someone joining the armed forces than their own parents who go out of their way to tell of the harsh realities that you and your supplied poem have so aptly pointed out.  Instead of the Army trying to combat those parents by isolating their child, they are instead inviting them into the experience as well.  I can not think of a more responsible strategy.

To your point that you would be okay with this if the experience was limited only to potential recruits and not those aged 13-17.  Well I assume this is for one of two reasons.  One, the Army has no business trying to recruit impressionable minds at an early age.  Well, lucky for us, they can’t!  Thirteen year olds can’t join the Army.  What they can do is go hands on with the tech that their big brother may potentially be using.  When they see the amount of technical innovation available to them, they may gain some piece of mind in knowing that the Army, and our tax-payer dollars are doing everything possible to keep our young men and women safe. 

Second reason:  the material presented is inappropriate for a teen.  Debatable, but not our call.  Remember that this is a family friendly exhibit where the parents are involved in deciding what is right and wrong for their children.  If this is your argument then your argument should be to shelter teens from all forms of violence, not strictly those available via the Army.  Let me remind you that images of war are ever abundant in PG-13 cinema and digital, immersive, interactive teen rated video games.  How many different gun peripherals are available on the family friendly Wii console?  Now, just because it’s common practice in movies and gaming doesn’t necessarily make it alright in the AEC, but again, that is not our call.  However, at that point it turns into the moral majority telling parents what they should allow.

Finally, what I find most disappointing about your counterpoint is that you never address my agrument that the Army does not send every warm body off to war.  Most military men and women never see a battlefield.  The ones that do are their for a reason. They made it through boot camp, thorough training and showed the physical, mental, and emotional fitness to not only excell in battle, but be responsible for their health, and the health of those around them.  Much like Ed’s comment in my original article, if any of these three areas are lacking (mental in his friend’s case) you don’t go to war.  Much like ML’s comment, a large chunk of recruits never make it out of basic training, meaning the Army wasn’t just going to send them off to their potential death just because they can squeeze a trigger. 

The point is that the Army has shown that they possess responsibility in who they ship overseas.  So why would they invest $12 million dollars and a whole lot of deceit to irresponsibly recruit?  They are providing tools, tech, and a family setting to try and cut down on the large number of washouts, all of whom were recruited the old fashioned way:  isolated away from Mom and Dad in an intimidating glorified closet.

In closing you did not need to tell me what the protesters were in fact protesting.  They are not un-American or un-patriotic.  If anything, exercising their rights as an American makes them anything but.  However, you have agreed that the AEC is indeed NOT glamorizing or glorifying war.  So at this point we should remember the very title of my article.  While the protesters want for less militarism is both duly noted and indeed highly desireable, their entire protest proclaiming that “war is not a game” is at the very least a big misunderstanding and at most steeped in ignorance.

7 responses to “The Case FOR Video Games as an Army Recruitment Tool Part Two

  1. Here’s my biggest problem with the AEC. It’s not that it’s letting 13 year olds hold M16s in the back of a humvee. It’s not that it’s using videogames to pander to a demographic that is a prime target for army recruitment. It’s that it is a waste of money. Honestly, why are my tax dollars going to keeping that place open. Sure, it’s just a drop in the bucket for our bloated defense budget, but it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose to me. I understand the reasons you listed Jeff about why the protesters are wrong (though I don’t agree with you on all of them), but you haven’t convinced me that it’s an investment that is ACTUALLY doing a lick of good. Do you honestly believe that, somehow, pretending to shoot insurgents from a simulated helicopter is…well, doing anything? I doubt it’s actually preparing people for service, enlightening the ignorant, or ensuring little Timmy that his big bro is gonna be safe in Afghanistan. Shit, if kids want to know what war is like, there are these things called museums, they record that shit. The History Channel? Maybe they could just talk to a veteran. And this isn’t a matter of pro-war, anti-war, or anything else. It’s simply a waste of my tax dollars that I don’t have a say over. THAT is something I would protest over.

    • I never convinced you it was an investment worth doing? I don’t recall trying to. The whole point of the article was to present my opinion on a moral debate.

      But, if you want me to argue dollars and cents, I’ll give it a shot.

      These are simulators that were already developed, so sticking pre-existing technology in a mall doesn’t cost very much. More than anything I’m sure the price tag has mostly to do with the retail space.

      Keep in mind that this is a facility that has garnered national attention and is getting a lot more people walking through it’s doors than any 50 average traditional Army recruiting centers. Depending on your feelings on wanting more troops in our military, perhaps that is worth the extra dime per taxpayer last year. If not, do you complain about Army television commercials, magazine ads or the Army NASCAR car?

      And you tell me if kids are more likely to go to a museum or a mall?

      • “And you tell me if kids are more likely to go to a museum or a mall?”

        and it’s a damn shame.

        Let’s roll with math for a minute. What if we took that 1 dime per American idea you had and put it to something else? Education? Health care? Shit, I’d rather see it put to Bob Barker’s dream of one day having all pets spayed or neutered. Why not make it a quarter. In fact, let’s make that quarter directly feed into each machine in the AEC. At least then it might be a little more representative, but you’re talking about morality…

        The facility is getting a lot of attention, I’m sure in part to the amount of protest. So the US Army needs the same type of Love/Hate publicity that Kanye West does? Ima let you finish, but Sony had some of the best viral marketing of all time.

        Sorry, I missed your point about ads, that commercial for the Navy had me grabbing my keys and mapquesting my nearest recruitment center.

  2. A disappointment?! Yes, let me seek your approval! That is the purpose of any discussion, right?

    Your self-proclaimed main point: “The Army does not send every warm body off to war”. I thought that too obvious to even try to dispute or begin to discuss. Also, they’re not at the moment doing so, but they have kind-of in the past. It’s called a draft. Even then, however, they will still be selective. Why? Because they have to be. For reasons that, much like water being wet and war being hellish, should be obvious.

    I’m not entirely sure you understood my article. Perhaps it was poorly written or I just failed to adequately articulate my argument. Nevertheless, its main theme was not that war is hell (a quote attributed to Gen. Sherman of the Union Army), but rather that it’s absurd to think that anything like the AEC can adequately, realistically, and truthfully, recreate the totality of what war is. I know that it’s not what they’re claiming to do, but do you understand how omitting MANY SERIOUSLY NEGATIVE aspects of the military and combat experience is, in a way, glamorizing it by distorting it? Yes, those kids in the simulator humvee may not have infinite re-spawns, but do you know what happens if their avatar gets killed? They get off of the simulator, get back in line, and try it again. Why would they try it again? Most likely because it’s fun (It looks like the old Operation Wolf (?) arcade light gun game). It’s not that the simulator glamorizes war. Hollywood and video games do that enough already. It’s the context. The environment.

    Do I agree that recruiters should be more in the open, such as in a mall, instead of a secluded closet? Of course. I completely agree that it’s a good and healthy idea for the family to be involved and that an environment that is conducive to that is a good thing. But do you really need to let thirteen year olds hold M-16’s with a staff sergeant and do virtual house-to-house sweeps killing insurgents? To the tune of twelve million tax dollars no less? You’re right, children are exposed to far more violence in their daily lives from the news, movies, and video games then they might experience at the AEC. It’s still about context for me. Those mediums don’t then tell them where to sign to be a part of that violence or make them feel confident that if they do, they’ll be good at it. And lets not be naive. The Army tells their new recruits that if they have what it takes then they’ll be damn good at it. The simulators are meant to show them and teach them that. Do you know why the Army wants to invite the family along to be part of the experience? So that the parents feel less like, as you said, reading their children “Dulce et Decorum est” and more like, “Wow. Look how safe Johnny will be with all of this technology to prepare and protect him!” Like you said, “What they can do is go hands on with the tech that their big brother may potentially be using. When they see the amount of technical innovation available to them, they may gain some piece (sp) of mind in knowing that the Army, and our tax-payer dollars are doing everything possible to keep our young men and women safe.” There might not be that much wrong with that. I agree with you. The more the family is involved, the better. Although, don’t you think that if little bro sees how “safe” big bro is because of all that tech that he might think that he would be safe too and be that much more likely to enlist later on?

    Of course, they can’t recruit thirteen year olds! I never said they could or expressed that I was worried that they would. I was simply critical of what it might mean for our society if our youth started getting the impression that war might not be all that bad if you’ve got the right technology on your side. And isn’t that part of what the simulators are doing? Showing people how the Army is using technological innovation and advances to keep our troops safe and more effective in the field?

    Also, if most men and women never see the battlefield (which is true), why is it twelve million dollars necessary to have every recruit at the AEC using training simulators which feature the battlefield and combat?

    You’re right and the protesters are right. War is not a game. It’s an experience. I agree with you that the banner was heavy-handed and an example of cheap sloganism. Again, a point so obvious that I didn’t think it merited debate.

    Your article also seemed to imply that I didn’t already say the following things so let me re-iterate them. Again.
    We NEED our armed forces and they need us to support them.
    Nevertheless, it’s not un-American or unpatriotic to protest or voice dissent. It is, in fact, very American.

    I kind-of resent your calling anyone who might disagree with the AEC a hippie and anti-war. Everybody is anti-war. That doesn’t make somebody a hippie. Who the fuck is pro-war? Some people, like ourselves, support the military, but that certainly doesn’t make us pro-war.

    I’d post all of this as a counter-point part two except for the fact that I think we’ve been beating a dead horse for awhile now. I’m actually somewhat sorry that I ever took the time to post anything in response.

    I’m sorry my argument disappointed you. Can I be disappointed in your spelling errors, faulty diction, and improper grammar and punctuation? Those all affect the efficacy of one’s argument too, you know?

    I guess I’ll stop “whining” now, Uncle Sam. I was just hoping for some open-minded, respectful debate. Remember, you didn’t want to know just what Wilfred Owen was saying, but what I was saying as well. Even though we disagree, I wouldn’t have responded at all if I didn’t dig what you had to say. That’s what’s great about debate!

    Thanks for the discussion.

    Whiner out. LOL.

    • Hey English profeser, i can is speak now?

      Pete, get off that high horse and show some humility. Don’t act like you’ve never called out someone for disagreeing with you. So I called you a whiner (which until now I didn’t really mean) and said I was disappointed. I didn’t realize you were so thin skinned.

      You regret bringing up a counter point? Why? Stand by what you have to say. If I don’t like it it wasn’t worth saying? Call me self centered or narcissistic but I tend to be disappointed when people disagree with me or do not see (or apparently feel worth it to bring up) my point.

      In case you didn’t know, let me fill you in on what is common knowledge amongst every other PNG member… I’m an asshole. Also, at any given time, I’ve accused every other member of this team to also be an asshole. I jest, we all do. But if you want to take things personally the jesting will stop with you.

      At this point it is useless to argue any more points regarding the AEC as you apparently regret doing so.

      However, I will battle your apparent umbrage with my use of the word “hippie.” You will notice that my one and only use of the word came after the video I posted. In said video there are hippies. I’m sorry, there are. Just like the Supreme Court knows pornography when they see it, I know a hippie when I see one.

      Now, is everyone in the video a hippie? Certainly not. Is “anyone who might disagree with the AEC” a hippie? Nope. So I will see your resentment and raise you my own for your inferral of something I neither said nor implied.

      Disapproving Asshole Out,

      p.s. if you could please highlight for me any spelling errors juxtapositions or incorrect punctuation, print out a copy and mail it straight up your ass, that would be swell… asshole. There, that’s everyone!

  3. I have a feeling that a lot of the people in the video and others who object to the AEC are the same group that believes that a cartoon camel led to under age smoking.

  4. Can we talk about abortion now? I have some thoughts on euthanasia. Um, the world is flat, wait, round. Eggs cause heart attacks.



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