The Military's Next Big Recruiting Ground May Be Virtual
Video gamers are more prepared for military service than people the same age were in previous generations.
“We don’t need Top Gun pilots anymore, we need Revenge of the Nerds,” said Missy Cummings, former US Navy pilot, Assoc. Prof. of Aeronautics, MIT in Drone Wars: The Gamers Recruited To Kill, a documentary film about gamers and drone operators.
With the development of drones and other technologies, it’s easy to understand why she makes that statement. The Navy has even fashioned some of their controllers after popular gaming consoles, such as the X-Box and Playstation, making it a comfortable transition from make-believe entertainment to high stakes shoot em’ up.
Video games have been used by the military to win the minds of young people since 2002 with America’s Army, a first person shooter created and run by the Army. Gamers who play similar first-person shooters get immersed in stories that require teamwork and battlefield knowledge to succeed while having fun.
“Whilst nobody who’s ever played Call of Duty or Battlefield expects to recover from a real-life assault rifle round to the chest by crouching momentarily behind a wall, huge numbers of young people are developing an in-depth knowledge of military hardware, vocabulary and basic technique,” reports Dan Pearson for Games Industry.
The game is so popular that from 2002 to 2008 it was one of the top 10 computer games in the world, reported Corey Mead in a 2013 article for Time magazine. For recruiters, the game is a tool for connecting with people familiar with Army basics, so hosting and attending tournaments is a no-brainer. However, the military is reaching beyond America’s Army. In the video below, you can see military officials attending gaming trade shows searching for the next drone operators.