Virtual Recruitment

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If you love video games, you have likely played a military-based First Person Shooter (FPS) game. Games like S.O.C.O.M., Call of Duty, Battlefield and Medal of Honor generally have dominated the gaming market in the past and present, but what is really attracting consumers to these games? Many believe it is the growing attention to detail and graphics, as well as the ultra-competitive multi-player experiences, that is drawing old and new gamers to this genre.

Now even the U.S. Army is getting in on the video game action, with a purpose. The military using video games to recruit is nothing new, as our military has already tried to bridge the line between 21st-century military recruiting and the gaming culture. This idea actually started with military simulation all the way back in the 1960s and expanded in the ’90s with video game consoles as they improved. Spacewar, which many consider the first video game, was developed by an MIT student and funded by the Pentagon itself.

In 2008, the U.S. Army experimented with finding a new way to increase its ranks, trading military training zones for militarized gaming arcades. The result was known as the Army Experience Center (AEC). The military is currently taking full advantage of military-based FPS popularity and has commissioned its own developers to continuously release a series of officially licensed mainstream console games, such as America’s Army.

As technologies like virtual and augmented reality continue to refine their respective experiences, the opportunity for the military to use this tech for recruitment and situational training grows. Military gaming and VR integration can also train soldiers in more immersive ways, helping them better understand and use emerging technology, such as drones and autonomous military vehicles. This use of new technology could help attract the Twitch generation. Gamers who possess the most advanced reflexes and tactical strategy that previously could only have realistically been monitored in real-time combat can now be statistically monitored and studied. For anyone who has ever watched “The Last Starfighter,” this new-age recruitment model seems like a symbiotic relationship for the military and gamers— and it works.

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