E3: America’s Army Recruiting Gamers for Special Forces

“America’s Army” is a battlefield simulation aimed (ouch) at promoting the US Amred forces to potential recruits – and now it’s one of the five most popular games hosted online, with 3.3 million registered users.

The US Army find that prospective soldiers who contact recruiters after playing the game have a much better follow-through rate than any other form or advertising or promotion, and is a much more efficient method of providing information to young people.

That’s right: this is a game actively encourages children to use guns and learn to kill people, and society is actually pleased for a change.

All of the scenarios in the game give a realistic view of Army life and require employing real-life tactics – if you go in blasting as if you were playing HalfLife, then you won’t last very long.

If you shoot one of your own, then you end up in prison – though this feature seems to have been omitted in “real life”.

E3 was the first showing of a new follow up to America’s Army: Operations, called America’s Army: Special Forces. Players attempt to earn Green Beret status by completing individual and collective training missions drawn from the Special Forces Assignment and Selection (SFAS) process.

Players who complete the SFAS process have the opportunity to take on elite Special Forces roles and are qualified to play in multiplayer missions with units ranging from the elite 82d Airborne Division to the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The British Army’s two attempts at recruitment games “Britain’s Army: Deepcut” and “Britain’s Army: Blown Up in Our Troop Carrier by an American A10 Warthog” were dismal failures.

My hope is that The Last Starfighter might actually be true and I will be contacted by aliens to save them because of my skills at Ikaruga. Knowing my luck though, it’ll be Super Monkey Ball.

Rumours that a certain group of footballers use Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to brush up their prostitute beating skills are unfounded.

Get your copy of America’s Army here

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?