Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Military Games: A Multimedia Recruitment Tool

While a misleading headline like “Terrorist Video Game” may quickly grab your attention, a similar, yet true story like “Government Funded Military Shooting Game” for actual recruitment has avoided public interest until now. This summer marks the 10-year anniversary in which the US Army’s publicly funded game project, known as America’s Army, designed to provide the “public a virtual Soldier experience that was engaging, informative and entertaining,” has been in existence.
However, what steps out as most important in our case as 'digital natives' is America’s Army as a political game or alternative media influence. In contrast to this week’s reading in which author Michael Sicart stated "[newsgames] utilize the medium with the intention of participating in the public debate,” political games are explicit in limiting player interaction, like only playing for Team America. 

Unlike the chronic media reports of video games as detrimental and threatening to society, the military has contradicted itself in comparison to the Pentagon case on terrorist videos games as propaganda and recruitment tools. Yet with liaisons to the military, news outlets fear releasing such investigative stories for fear of the military ceasing it supply of stock footage, which is why the story isn’t so known.

As for the game itself, the military has gone extensive lengths to ensure its massive success. Among the many accolades it has received, from Best Use of Tax Dollars to Most Realistic Game of the Year, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded it the most downloaded War Game in 2008.

Soldiers: Official US Army Magazine
The concept of military games isn't new at all. According to author Carrie McLeroy of Soldiers Magazine, "Gaming has long been an important tool used by militaries to assist in training, analysis and mission readiness" and games have been used for thousands of years.

Despite not being a newsgame, America's Army remains essential to our class discussion because it demonstrates how the US Government and military devise alternative media methods to achieve their political agendas.

1 comment:

  1. I think the comparison between indoctrination games and editorial games that you present is an interesting one, and you do a nice job bringing in Sicart. However, you might want to foreground the connection sooner so the link to our digital journalism subject matter is clearer to your audience. America's Army is a game that several game scholars, including Ian Bogost, have written about, by the way. CAT 1 classes with Emily Roxworthy actually played it this year as part of their coursework.