Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Troops really do come from all walks of life. While the military has plenty of the jocks and popular kids, the nerdy kids also raised their right hand. But you’re a few months into a deployment now and everyone’s looking for something new to do.

The troops who were picked last in gym class are now playing football with the guys and the former football star is now working away on their first D&D character sheet. When you’re bored in the desert and see the other guys having fun — screw it. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of team building among the squad.


 

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Some of the more traditional tabletop games, like Dungeons and Dragons, can played anywhere you can find a pen, some paper, a few dice, and, if you’re lucky, a copy of the player’s handbook. Coincidentally, pen and paper is about all troops sometimes have while deployed and at least one person can get a set of dice sent out.

It’s not just Dungeons and Dragons that’s making an unironic comeback among hardened war fighters. Other tabletop classics, like Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy, are making a splash with troops. Sure, Warhammer runs a little on the pricey side and assembling and painting an army by hand will take months. Thankfully, cash and downtime are about the only two things troops have on a deployment.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
A few months and couple hundred dollars later and you get to just the “basic” level of play.
(Photo by Jesse Vauhkonen)

 

Even if the troops don’t want to nosedive into the deep end of nerdom, it’s not too uncommon for troops to be playing Risk (and not just until people get bored. This battle rages until someone wins, which may take a few days). Others are constantly fussing over their fantasy football team, which, let’s all be honest — and take this from the guy who extensively writes about Star Wars and Game of Thrones puts them a pair of BCGs away from joining the commo guys in playing DD.

Ranger Up even got in on the fun by livestreaming a campaign. Matt James, a U.S. Army veteran and game designer, was the Dungeon Master for Nick Palmisciano and the rest of the crew . They may have been kicked back a few more beers than they did when they played in the back of the AV club, but they — and everyone watching the stream — were having fun.

MIGHTY GAMING

A soldier is up on real-life charges for killing comrades in a video game

For the first time, a soldier is being brought up on real-world charges for battlefield offenses committed during a video game. A UK troop stationed in Edinburgh, frustrated at the lack of real training took that frustration out in the combat simulator in which he and his squad were training.


He wasn’t charged with murder, according to the Telegraph, he was charged with disobeying a direct order and reprimanded. The infantry rifleman told members of his unit he just wanted to be training outside and was fed up with being on a laptop. He will spend the coming weekend on guard duty as part of his punishment.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

“Guys, take this seriously, okay??”

Members of his unit told the Telegraph they had been training on the laptop computers for at least three weeks and were anxious to go outside and do real-world training. They also challenged anyone else to do the same thing for that long without needing to vent some kind of frustration.

“All this was taking place in an office at our headquarters, when we’d rather be doing real-life soldiering outside in the fresh air. But there’s less of that sort of exercise these days because the Army has committed to Unit-based Virtual Training.”
Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Like training for, say, World War III.

The unit was training on what to do in an armored convoy in a hostile environment, filled with enemy forces. That’s when the soldier in question “lost his rag” and went on a Grand Theft Auto-level virtual spree, which started with killing the soldier next to him. He then stole one of the armored vehicles and drove it down the street to deliberately smash into local nationals’ cars.

His comrades thought the behavior was extremely funny, his superior officers did not.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Pictured: British Army convoy training.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence defended the reprimand, saying “We take the training of our service personnel very seriously and anyone who is disruptive to this training will receive disciplinary action..

MIGHTY GAMING

Video game streaming allows military veterans to fundraise for Fisher House

Streamers Activate Their Audiences to Support Military, Veterans, and Their Families

ROCKVILLE, MD. (March 23, 2021) – Veterans, military members, and their supporters now fundraise for Fisher House Foundation and other veteran service organizations through their performances on video game streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, raising anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands within hours.

Jacob Hausman, a streamer who plays under the name Deltia, hosted a 24-hour charity stream which ultimately raised over $10,000. After taking a hiatus for over two years, the Army infantry veteran was returning to the game and was excited to return to the community he had cultivated.

“What was really cool to me about being in the military, I was 17 years old on active duty, I was coming in to people that were grown men having to take care of families,” he said. “And here I am not doing my own laundry at home, you know, spoiled little child. So it was cool because it was a big melting pot of different people from all over different cultures. And that’s what gaming is. Especially Elder Scrolls Online (ESO); there’s people from all over the world. So you’re still friends with them to this day, all over the world.”

fisher house gaming

When Jacob left the Army, streaming wasn’t the first thing on his agenda. He had some medical needs, and his mom would often take him to Omaha, Nebraska, nearly 100 miles away, for his appointments. Luckily, he didn’t need any overnight stays, but he thought a lot about how hard it was for families that did. He was excited when he heard that a Fisher House was being built in Omaha that would serve families like his.

When Jacob decided to return to streaming and the community he built, he decided that his first big stream would be a live streaming charity event that would support Fisher House Foundation.

Jacob and his team put together a video on YouTube that announced his return to the game. Streamers typically collect donations from their audience during a stream, but for the first week after his return, Jacob wanted people to raise funds for the Fisher House Foundation through a service called Streamlabs instead. The culmination of his fundraiser was a long streaming session where he promised to play ESO for 24 hours straight. Through hours of steady gaming, Jacob’s community rallied together and raised $10,064.33 – just surpassing the final goal of $10,000 in the last thirty minutes of the stream. 

While Jacob and his community can boast that they’re the first team to exceed $10,000 in a streaming fundraiser for Fisher House Foundation, they aren’t the first to help serve military and veteran families in this way.

More than a dozen gamers and streamers have held events for Fisher House Foundation over the past nine months and raised over $27,000. These grassroot streamers have played everything from Tekken and Call of Duty to Rocket League and Fall Guys.

Ryan Chastain, a streamer on Twitch who plays a variety of games on the channel RhinoShow, is a medically retired soldier who has raised over $1,100 for the Foundation. That’s enough to cover an almost-four-month stay for a family at a Fisher House.

“I started looking into military-based organizations because, you know, being retired military, that’s something that I’m always into,” Ryan said. “And I looked into the numbers, the percentage of the dollar that goes to the cause, and Fisher House was one of the highest.”

“A lot of my followers are veterans, and they are super behind the cause,” Ryan said. “And others are connected through family, you know, their dad or granddad or someone served. Fundraising has helped to tighten the community up. Everyone brought stories up during the stream and shared.”

Ryan donated streams three months in a row, all on the 22nd of the month, to raise awareness of veteran suicide. 

Streamers interested in fundraising for Fisher House can sign up at https://streamlabscharity.com/fisher-house-foundation-inc. Fundraisers of any type can sign up at https://fisherhouse.org/get-involved/fundraise/

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About Fisher House Foundation 
Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 91 comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room, and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veteran families an estimated $525 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation. www.fisherhouse.orgAbout Deltia’s Gaming
Deltia’s Gaming is a hub for gamers that provides coverage of gaming guides, discussions, and lifestyle advice. Launched in 2014, Deltia’s Gaming has garnered over 36 million views by creating helpful information for games like The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). In his “Gamer to Gym Rat” series, Deltia’s Gaming promotes healthy living by showcasing his personal fitness journey to his supporters.  Visit www.DeltiasGaming.com to learn more about Deltia and his gaming initiatives.

MIGHTY GAMING

The Sega Genesis Mini is coming to fuel your ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ nostalgia

By now, there’s a playbook for capitalizing on gamer nostalgia. Take a classic console — the original Nintendo, the Super NES, the first PlayStation, the Atari VCS — and make a miniaturized, modern version with HDMI output and preloaded games. Then, sell it at a price much lower than that of the latest generation of consoles. For long-suffering Sega fans, the wait is finally coming to an end, as the company is finally borrowing the playbook and releasing an updated version of its classic console, the Sega Genesis.


The Sega Genesis Mini, as the new device is known looks, like a shrunk-down version of the original, beloved console. It will come with two wired controllers with a standard D-pad on the left and Genesis-standard three-button control pad on the right.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

The Genesis Mini is an HDMI-equipped version of the classic console that comes preloaded with 40 different games. (Buy now)

The system comes preloaded with 40 different games, a generous number that means it won’t be easy to get bored with this thing. The included titles are being announced in four waves of ten, and the first batch has us excited. Sonic the Hedgehog is thankfully included because there wouldn’t be much point to a Genesis reboot without it.

Other titles include the Dracula-themed platformer Castlevania: Bloodlines, groundbreaking independent title Gunstar Heroes, the bizarre and captivating Toe Jam Earl, as far as we know the only funk-themed video game out there. There’s a ton of variety in this wave, and we’re excited to see the rest of the titles as they’re released between now and Sept. 29, 2019, when the console hits the market.

If you’re already ready to shell out for the console, you can pre-order the Mini today and avoid any shortages that might happen.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘World of Warcraft’ paid tribute to Gunny Ermey

On April 15th, 2018, one of the finest Marines to ever grace Hollywood, R. Lee Ermey, passed away. He left behind a legacy that will stand the test of time, portraying troops and veterans in a positive light while connecting civilians to the military by being a cinematic icon.

Nearly every time pop culture alludes to the military, they’re inadvertently referencing his works — typically because of his incredibly popular role in Full Metal Jacket. Blizzard Entertainment’s legendary World of Warcraft is no exception to that rule.

In fact, the newest expansion, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, features an entire series of quests dedicated to the Gunny himself.


Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

You know, actual Marine Corps stuff.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

Over the years, the game has included a total of three nods to his works. First, there’s a character exclusive to Halloween-time events named Sergeant Hartman that aids you in your fight against a fiendish Headless Horseman. There’s a dwarf named Gunny at Honor Hold that makes snarky comments about the player, according to your character’s in-game rank. And there’s a Lieutenant Emry, a misspelling of Ermey’s name, that offers the player a quest to take a beach from the Horde like any good Marine would.

But all of those characters were simply flavor NPCs — none of them really added anything to the story and they were more or less based off of Gunny Hartman, not Ermey himself. The fourth and most recent tribute character pulls nods from his life, sprinkling in just a bit of Full Metal Jacket. Since the latest expansion is very heavy on Naval themes, much of your time is spent landing on beaches.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

And this nice little riff that would have made Ermey proud. You may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

To begin the quest, you must first play on the Alliance, reach level 110, and begin the War Campaign. You’ll be given three sites to invade the Horde-controlled Zandalar. From these options, you’ll need to pick desert location, Vol’Dun. This is where you meet Sergeant Ermey of the 7th Legion — a human character bearing a striking resemblance to our beloved Gunnery Sergeant Ermey sporting an alliance-themed campaign hat.

Your very first mission is called “Ooh Rah!” and requires you to storm the beaches with Sergeant Ermey to secure a beachhead for the Alliance. Once you’ve killed your requisite number of baddies, Sergeant Ermey has another quest called “Honor Bound,” during which you need to go behind enemy lines to rescue a missing Marine, Private James.

As you work to locate and rescue the private, Ermey delivers plenty of heartfelt lines, waxing on about how he’ll never leave a comrade behind. A few slain creatures, inspected items, and explored areas later, you eventually save him. Once freed and ready to return, Private James will thank you and Sergeant Ermey. For all of his sentiment, when the moment finally comes, Ermey responds with a simple, “You better square yourself away, Private.”

To watch the scenario play out, check out this clip.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Army wants more soldiers, and it’s using esports to put a ‘finger on the pulse’ of potential recruits

After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.


The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.

Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, “build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth.”

By January 2019, more than 6,500 soldiers had applied for a team that was expected to have about 30 members. In September 2019, the Army credited the esports team, one of two new outreach teams set up that year, as having “initiated some of the highest lead-generating events in the history of the all-volunteer force.”

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Staff Sgt. Michael Showes, far right, with fellow Army Esports Team members and a game enthusiast at an exhibition in San Antonio, January 19, 2019.

US Army/Terrance Bell

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the team, said in January 2019.

Team members who were competing would train for up to six hours a day, Jones said at the time, and they received instruction on Army enlistment programs so they could answer questions from potential recruits.

“They will have the ability to start a dialogue about what it is like to serve in our Army and see if those contacts are interested in joining,” Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said in early 2019.

Thousands of soldiers play esports, Muth said, and the audience for it has grown into the hundreds of millions — West Point even recognized its own official esports club in January — but the appeal wasn’t obvious at first to Army leaders, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday.

“This was one [idea] that when the first time Gen. Frank Muth briefed … Army senior leadership, we’re like, ‘What are you talking about, Frank?'” McCarthy told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“We’re about 18 months into it,” McCarthy said, and with that team, Army recruiters were “getting their finger on the pulse with 17- to 24-year-old Americans. What are they into? How do they communicate? And [finding] those right venues and shaping our messaging to talk about here’s the 150 different things you can do in the Army and the access to education and the kinds of people that you can meet and being a part of something as special as this institution.”

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The Army Esports Team trailer at ArmyCon 2019, October 12, 2019.

Army Esports Team/Facebook

In 2019, the Army rolled out an esports trailer with four gaming stations inside, as well as a semi-trailer with eight seats that could be adjusted so all eight players played the same game or their own on a gaming PC, an Xbox 1S, a PS4 Pro, and a Nintendo Switch, Jones, the NCO-in-charge, told Task Purpose in October.

One of the senior leaders dispatched to an esports event was Gen. Mark Milley, who was Army chief of staff at the time and is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the president’s top uniformed military adviser.

“He said, ‘You’re going to make me do what?'” McCarthy said Friday. “Then when he went, he learned a lot, and he got to engage with young men and women, and what we found is we’re getting millions of leads of 17- to 24-year-olds to feed into Army Recruiting Command to engage young men and women to see if they’d be interested in a life of service.”

The esports team is part of a change in recruiting strategy, McCarthy said, that has focused on 22 cities in traditional recruiting grounds in the South and Midwest but also on the West Coast and the Northeast with the goal of informing potential recruits about what life in the Army is actually like as well as about the benefits of serving, such as money for college or soft skills that appeal to employers.

The service has also shifted almost all its advertising spending to digital and put more uniformed personnel into the Army Marketing Research Group to take more control of its messaging.

McCarthy on Friday called it “a comprehensive approach” to “improve our performance in a variety of demographics, whether that’s male-to-female ratios or ethnicities.” That geographic focus yielded “a double-digit lift” among women and minorities, McCarthy said last year.

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Army Gen. Frank Muth, back row, third from right, with members of the Army Esports Team in front of USAE gaming truck, in Washington, DC, October 14, 2019.

US Army Esports Team/Facebook

The outreach hasn’t been universally welcomed.

After the 2018 recruiting shortfall, service chiefs, including then-Army Secretary Mark Esper, said schools were not letting uniformed service members in to recruit. Anti-war activists attempted to disprove that claim by offering ,000 to schools that admitted to barring recruiters.

Suggestions the Army start recruiting children in their early teens also received criticism for both its impracticality and the harm it could do to the military as an institution.

But recruiting has improved year-over-year, hitting the goal set last year and being ahead of pace now, McCarthy said.

“This has been a major turnaround, because I think we just got a little lazy and we started losing touch with young men and women … but you have to sustain this,” McCarthy added. “We’re in a war for talent in this country — 3.5% unemployment, they have a lot of opportunities.”

“We travel to a lot of American cities, and we meet with mayors and superintendents of schools and other civic leaders to try to educate those influencers, to try to help us in recruiting, and it’s yielded tremendous benefit.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

This highly anticipated PlayStation 4 game is confusing critics

Kojima Production’s “Death Stranding” has all the makings of a video game blockbuster. It’s an experience three years in the making, the product of a visionary director launching a new franchise from an independent studio.

But after three years of mounting anticipation, it’s still not totally clear what players can expect from “Death Stranding.” Sony gave critics an early chance to dive in and see what “Death Stranding” is about, and the reviews have brought back rather mixed opinions.

There’s no question “Death Stranding” is a clear departure from Director Hideo Kojima’s last game, “Metal Gear Solid V.” While “Metal Gear Solid” is a military-focused franchise starring a super soldier, “Death Stranding” puts you in control of a lone deliveryman in a desolate, post-apocalyptic that’s wide open for exploration.


Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead” plays the game’s protagonist, and a handful of recognizable actors offer photo-realistic performances for the game’s cinematic cut scenes. The story wasn’t particularly celebrated among reviewers, though some said the cutscenes were well-acted.

Reviewers ultimately found that the experience would vary depending on the player, since “Death Stranding” takes dozens of hours to complete. Critics noted that the game’s first 10 hours can be particularly challenging or outright boring depending on your play-style, but the game changes rather dramatically after the long introduction.

Last year’s best-selling game, “Red Dead Redemption 2,” had a similar reception — the game’s campaign took 40 or more hours to complete and left reviewers with a mixed impression of the game’s massive open world. “Red Dead Redemption 2” was still well received by fans for its immersive gameplay and thoughtful storytelling.

Here’s what critics are saying about “Death Stranding” so far:

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

(“Death Stranding”/Kojima Productions)

The visuals of “Death Stranding” are impressive by any standard.

“So much work has been poured into every inch of every model and it’s almost unbelievable to see this much detail – even in an era where most games already feature highly detailed characters. Put simply, the bar has been raised.” — John Linneman, Digital Foundry

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

(“Death Stranding”/Kojima Productions)

‘Death Stranding’ is more about survival and exploration than action and combat.

“There’s no automatic parkour or physics-defying cliff climbing here. Every step I take needs to be intentional, or I might end up taking a serious tumble. When I overload my pack I have to use the left and right triggers to balance my weight, or else I risk falling over, damaging my goods.

It’s equally engaging and frustrating as I topple over after twisting my ankle, forcing myself to restack all my belongings. Death Stranding is a walking simulator in the truest sense.” — Russ Frushtick

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

(“Death Stranding” Kojima Productions)

Exploring doesn’t mean you’ll always be alone though.

“Violence is a last resort, and ‘Death Stranding’ is best experienced in a careful and stealthy fashion, but when the time comes for the silence to break and explosions to ring out, it’s powerful.” — Heather Alexandra, Kotaku

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

(“Death Stranding”/Kojima Productions)

“Death Stranding” is a long game that requires a personal investment from its players.

“It’s not a game that makes itself easy to enjoy. There are few concessions for uninterested players. It’s ponderously slow, particularly in the early chapters, which largely consist of delivering packages over staggering distances. Early conversations are filled with phrases and words that will be incomprehensible to the uninitiated — and, honestly, much of it remains a mystery after the credits roll.” — Andrew Webster, The Verge

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

(“Death Stranding”/Kojima Productions)

‘Death Stranding’ left many critics excited for the game’s release so they could compare their experiences with other players’.

“I came away from the game exhilarated, confused and wanting to find others who have played it not only to put together the missing pieces but to commiserate about the experience. In a clever meta twist, Kojima has created a game that begs for a larger discourse, a connection for all those who have played it to share.” — Kahlief Adams, The Hollywood Reporter

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Lists

4 ways nicknames in the military are nothing like in pop culture

Movies would have you believe that every unit has a guy nicknamed “Hawkeye” or “Snake” or some other generic, tough name. As fun as films and video games make those monikers seem, it just doesn’t work that way in real life.

In actuality, nicknames fall into one of four categories: Either the troop is a freakin’ legend, it’s the unit’s name plus a number or letter, it’s just a shortened version of their last name, or it’s an insult in disguise.

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Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Even with all of The Punisher swag that Chris Kyle wore, he never insisted that anyone call him “The Punisher” — even if he was one of the few people on Earth worthy of that title.

The legends

Let’s kick this list off with the freakin’ legends. Take Secretary of Defense James “Warrior Monk” Mattis for example. He’s a highly revered military mind within the U.S. Armed Forces and his nickname reflects that.

As is the case with most nicknames, they’re typically invented and popularized by others — not by the legends themselves. These nicknames are even more intimidating when they’re created by the enemy. Chris “the Legend” Kyle, for example, was known as “Al-Shaitan Ramad,” which translates into “the Devil of Ramadi.”

The reason why both Kyle and Mattis have such badass nicknames is because they earned them.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Why, yes. They do call me “Romeo” for a reason…

(Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

Call signs

People often confuse nicknames with call signs, so let’s hash the difference right now. Call signs are official unit designations given to members of the chain of command. Sometimes, a call sign will become more familiar than your own name.

If you’re, let’s say, the company commander of the alpha company “Spartans,” you’ll get the designation of “Spartan 6.” The XO gets “Spartan 5,” Senior Enlisted gets “Spartan 7,” and so on. Drivers, gunners, and radio operators can swap out the number designation for D, G, and R, respectively.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

“Hey, Ski!” “…which one?”

(Photo by Sgt. Lauren Harrah)

Butchered last name

The next nickname variation is especially terrible if your last name is anything outside of the standard, common English name. Unless you’re a “Smith” or a “Brown” or a “Johnson,” no one is going to try to pronounce what’s on your name tape — no matter how phonetically simple it may seem.

A whole nine letters broken into three syllables — you know, something simple like Milzarski (pronounced Mil-zar-ski) is too complicated. So, most will just shorten it to “Ski.” Good luck if there’s more than one Polish troop in the squad. Not that I’m ranting or anything…

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

If it’s dumb and it sounds like an insult, don’t take it personally. It’s meant with brotherly love.

(U.S. Army)

Remember when you screwed up?

The most common way to get yourself a nickname of your very own is to f*ck up. Don’t worry if it’s not a record-shattering mistake — people will constantly remind you of what you did. It’s not pleasant and it’s usually a way to rib one another, but you don’t want to be known as “Fumbles” by everyone.

Don’t worry if you get one of these dumb names. It’ll pass as soon as you PCS or ETS.

MIGHTY GAMING

US Army simulation will prep teachers for school shootings

Two government agencies have teamed up to provide teachers with a unique education in the wake of increased school shootings.


The United States Army and Homeland Security Department are in the midst of creating a virtual reality experience they hope will help train educators on how to react in the event of a school shooting, according to Gizmodo.

Users can take on three roles in the virtual reality experience: teacher, shooter, and officer.

Teachers in the simulation must gather nervous pupils and find shelter. Those playing as the shooter are able to navigate the virtual school and kill at random. Officers in the virtual reality simulation must aim to find and kill the shooter.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
Someone dazzled by VR goggles. (Photo from Flickr user Maurizio Pesce)

The simulation is being developed as part of the $5.6 million Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) initiative, which is an “online training environment for first responders.”

In 2016, the Army and HSD released a similar virtual reality experience aimed to train first responders to handle hostile situations.

They’ve created simulations for both fire and police departments regarding school shooting response.

Related: New virtual reality lets operators simulate jumps into combat

“The more experience you have, the better your chances of survival are,” Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for EDGE, told Gizmodo.

“So, this allows you to practice and have multiple experiences (and) know what works and what doesn’t work.”

To create the most realistic scenario possible, EDGE engineers listened to dispatch audio from both the Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook shootings. This allowed them to incorporate the most gruesome realities into the simulation.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
Students at Virginia Tech hold a candlelight vigil after the Virginia Tech massacre (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

It also helped them zero in on specific survival tactics and best practices for such scenarios, including locking doors, avoiding windows, ordering students to line up against walls, and finding items to use as barricades.

According to Gizmodo, administrators in the simulations can enable different tools, including an intercom system and automated locks.

Griffith told the publication she’s hopeful that using the simulation in varying roles within the school will allow educators to stay calm should such a real-life situation arise.

“With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality,” she said.

“And so we want to give them the chance to understand what options are available to them and what might work well for them.”

The updated virtual reality simulation aimed at teachers will be released in the spring.

MIGHTY GAMING

Why World of Warcraft has remained at the top of gaming for nearly 14 years

Gaming is an ever-changing and ever-adapting world. Some games are a flash-in-the-pan and fizzle out before really reaching their full potential and others live in the hearts of gamers as classics. Yet there has never been a more successful video game to keep its players engaged like Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft has left such an impact on the world of gaming that it’s transcended the requirement to become a classic while simultaneously giving constant updates and evolving. Back in 2004, there already were several games in the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing game (MMORPG) genre. Everquest and EVE Online predate Warcraft by a few years and at around the time of its release there were many more MMOs alongside it. Every MMO to come out after it is still community-labeled as “the next WoW killer.”

Spoiler alert: they weren’t.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
It’s lonely on the throne at the top of the world.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

The game providers did what very few things in the fantasy genre can claim — they made fantasy easy enough for everyone to join in and cool enough to draw non-nerds in. World of Warcraft never played like the standard fantasy game where you need to be heavily invested in fantasy to get what’s going on. World of Warcraft makes the game simple enough that a kid could grasp the concept and challenging enough to engage mature players, whereas other games just simply toss the player in and hope for the best.


There are many draws to World of Warcraft but one of the key selling-points is the enticing story. Even when you start out as a low-level paladin, your character feels like they’re now apart of this massive ever-changing world. Each quest your character takes on along the way feels like the stakes have organically risen from the days of killing boars in the forest. Before you know it, it will truly feel like you’ve earned being the world-saving paladin.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
The awesome loot just adds to it.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

The previous games in the franchise, Warcraft, Warcraft II, and Warcraft III, all place an equal standing for the two opposing factions — the Alliance and the Horde. The moment a new player comes in and picks a side, they’re unknowingly drawn into a massive player base that sees themselves as the good guys and other players as their enemy, despite both being just regular players. Other MMOs either put every player on the side of good or they clumsily made a war that didn’t feel grand enough.

This feeds into the player’s identity that is felt throughout their time playing. Feeling like you’re actually this great Dwarven Paladin or fierce Undead Warlock keeps you hooked into staying into the game. While many players have multiple characters to choose from, they feel an attachment to their main character far more because of the first time they played through the storyline.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
It’s not uncommon to see players with the same character from they’ve played since the launch in 2004.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Each expansion pack released after launch has managed to carefully take on a threat just slightly more intimidating than the last. The stories always continue and give you a sense of “this is the bad guy — fear them” before you eventually take them down with your friends. Generally, new major pieces of content are added to the game every other month or so (with content admittedly winding down just before the next expansion) so there’s always plenty of gameplay.

Not only are players able to take on the actual story, but each other. Players are able to skirmish each other at every opportunity they come across. If you feel like attacking a lowly player of the other side, go for it. If you want to band together with scores of other players of your faction to attack the enemy capital city, go for it. The player-versus-player is fun and rewarding. But if you didn’t want to fight other players and just enjoy yourself, that’s fine too.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed
There’s even an entire system in the game based on just fishing. Which is one of the many things you could do to pass time before a raid.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Another aspect that keeps many fans coming back is the sense of community. Players can form parties to clear dungeons with their friends and guilds to clear raids on the previously mentioned baddies. The guilds form a close knit bond that eventually becomes year-long friendships with people you’ve never met before.

World of Warcraft is coming on its fourteenth year since the servers went live and the next expansion based on the faction war is about to be released in early August. As long as Blizzard keeps up the good work, players may be around for another 14 years.

MIGHTY GAMING

Watch this YouTuber take on the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge

All members of the Department of Defense, including troops, must undertake an annual training to test their knowledge of cyber awareness. A few years back, they changed the test up just slightly to make it far less of a bore and more like a crappy 90s text-based video game.

Everyone freaking hates this training and, if it weren’t mandated at the Pentagon level, no one would willingly subject themselves to it. That is, of course, with the exception of YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie.


Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

He had only the trophies and Jeff to keep him company.

(PewDiePie)

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known by most as “PewDiePie,” grew in popularity through his video-game related content — particularly his “Let’s Play” format, through which fans could watch him play games as he delivered hilarious commentary.

His videos have actually created success for many smaller, indie games, particularly in the horror genre. He’d showcase otherwise-ignored games, give them a glowing review or overreact to intense moments, and his rabid fans would immediately buy said game, propelling it into the spotlight. He has since become the biggest YouTuber, currently sitting at 65 million subscribers.

Recently, he finally took on the dreaded Cyber Awareness Challenge — with commentary provided throughout, of course. Being the avid gamer that he is, the ‘Challenge’ proved trivial, but he actually took it far more seriously than anyone in the military does.

Unlike the god-awful test of old, the modern training awards “trophies” for getting everything correct, so PewDiePie gave it his all.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

That’s literally the exact same answer that everyone gives for that question. The dude stole a phone in the Pentagon… You better go grab that phone!

(PewDiePie)

As he slogged through, he coincidentally ripped the exact same moments of the training that troops mock relentlessly. The training wastes no time in offering pieces of painfully obvious guidelines. For example, the very first tip the government puts out there in promotingcyber awareness is “don’t look at pornography at work.”

He also ran into many of the overly stupid characters that populate the training, like Tina, the coworker that constantly tries to get you to download stuff, and Jeff, the IT manager that tells you just how proud of our work he is in the most monotone fashion possible — but for some odd reason only has a box of tissues on his desk?

Pewds, who never served in the U.S. military, was ill-prepared for many of the minute details — like taking your CAC/PIV out of the computer whenever you walk away — but actually did very well. He did, however, fallfor some of the traps that seem to violate common sense.At one point in the training, your phone is stolen and you’re given the opportunity to chase down the thief, and so he did. But the correct answer is to”alert the security POC.”

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

BZ, PewDiePie. You managed to sit through the same crap all troops do without clawing out your eyes. BZ.

(PewDiePie)

PewDiePie passed the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge with flying colors and was given the Certificate of Completion that every member of the Department of Defense needs to turn in.

He says he’ll print it, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Instead of turning it in to his S-6 to reinstate his government computer permissions, I’m sure he’ll hang it on his wall or something.

To watch the same training that sucks the soul out of the military (complete with hilarious commentary), check out the video below.

MIGHTY GAMING

How Blizzard is putting the ‘war’ back in Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is still going strong after nearly 14 years of being at the top of the video game world. One of the ways that Blizzard has maintained such success is by releasing a constant stream of new content for subscribers to enjoy. This trend continues with next week’s release of the game’s seventh expansion, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

This time around, instead of focusing on fighting some giant, world-ending bad guy, the developers are taking a different approach and are returning to what made the game so beloved: the faction-based conflict between the Alliance of humans, dwarves, and night elves and the Horde of orcs, trolls, and undead.


Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Players had little idea that a simple choice between left side or right side would mean so much fourteen years down the road.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

The game has always drawn players in by carefully scaling a character’s level of badassery with the amount of time spent playing. Couple this enrapturing, eventual rise to power with the ever-looming threat of attack by the opposing faction and you’ve got a recipe for player investment. When players are invested in the game, they start to care about the world — and its well-being.

The last expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, saw players putting an end to the series’ primary antagonist, Sargeras. The fight against such a massive threat required that the Horde and Alliance mend bad blood and work together (mostly) to fend off a universal danger.

With the major threats quelled, players are rejoicing as opposing factions can finally go back to killing each other — and things have started off with a bang. As a lead-up to the expansion’s release, the Horde burnt down the capital city of the night elves, Darnassus. In return, the Alliance laid siege to the undead capital, The Undercity.

Right now, players are taking part in said attacks, storming the battlefield as either the defenders or the attackers, depending on which faction you chose when making your character — an event that, for some, happened nearly 14 years ago.

The Alliance-versus-Horde aspect of the game has long been a fan favorite. A huge section of player base has always taken their faction identity to heart. In the older days of World of Warcraft, if you made an Alliance character on a server, that was it. If you wanted to try life on the Horde, you had to pick a new server and start all over.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t uncommon for a group of friends to be split over something as simple as deciding to play as a dwarf or a troll because it meant they couldn’t play together. These restrictions have since been loosened and many players have characters on both factions — but they’ll remain fiercely loyal to their first, arbitrary choice.

This is actually the heart of what makes the advertisements for the new expansion so funny. Moments like the one in the video below really do happen between World of Warcraft players.

Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

​My excuse is going to be “massive diarrhea to the point that I’d rather not risk seeing a doc.”

(Blizzard Entertainment)

It kind of goes without saying that the next expansion is heavily based on player-versus-player interactions. Players are highly encouraged to fight with their faction against their enemy and are given some pretty sweet in-game rewards for doing so. Ambush unsuspecting foes while they’re out exploring or take part in skirmishes in designated battlegrounds in the pursuit of honor — ‘honor’ here means both for the love of your faction and for literal ‘honor points.’

New to the expansion is the introduction of Warfronts, massive battlefields for which players fight to control. Victory means capturing a city that their faction retains until the next battle. There are also plenty of new zones filled brim with quests tailored specifically for your faction to help you reach the new max level, getting you ready to join the fight.

So, get ready to fight for your faction’s pride on Tuesday. Or, if you don’t play, get ready for some of your nerdy friends to sick call for a “totally valid” reason early next week.

MIGHTY GAMING

A Navy veteran just got a special Xbox delivered via skydiver

To celebrate the release of Battlefield V, Microsoft and Electronic Arts partnered to give a Florida veteran a limited-edition Xbox One X bundle, delivered via an outrageous skydiving stunt.

Motorsport driver and stunt performer Travis Pastrana of Nitro Circus dove from a height of 13,000 feet to deliver the first Xbox One X Gold Rush Special Edition Battlefield V bundle to retired Navy Corpsman Jeff Bartrom, who lives in Paisley, Florida. Pastrana hit a peak speed of 140 mph during the dive, and the jump took less than 55 seconds.


Travis Pastrana Aerial Drop With Xbox One Gold Rush Battlefield Bundle

www.youtube.com

The giveaway was meant to thank Bartrom for his service, and it coincides with Microsoft’s #GiveWithXbox initiative. The company pledged to donate worth of Xbox products for every picture shared to social media with the hashtag showing the importance of gaming. Microsoft will donate up to id=”listicle-2621537520″ million to be split between four charities, Child’s Play, Gamers Outreach, SpecialEffect, and Operation Supply Drop. The social-media campaign is running through December 9th.

World War II shooter Battlefield V officially launched on Nov. 20, 2018, and is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The Xbox One X version of Battlefield V also features enhanced visuals. EA Access members can play a free 10-hour trial of the game on their platform of choice as well.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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