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Well, I suggest you take a quick bathroom break and grab a refill. We are going to cover a large amount of territory here.

Why a video game?

To answer this, you need to understand a little history of the U.S. Armed Service marketing and advertisement strategies. Many years ago, an individual would have frequently heard about the armed forces through one of their inner-circles (close family and friends). Usually a parent, grand-parent, or uncle, or cousin would share their experiences in the armed forces. There were also successful marketing campaigns the armed forces would push out - commercials, billboard advertisements, and so on. Through these communication points, an individual would know that the armed forces is also a career opportunity; whether it be for a few years or for life. They would learn about the great benefits and education in many areas of expertise and use those skills in service and then in the private sector.

Now, let us fast-forward to today. We are all completely distracted by our technological advancements. Hanging out in front of the T.V. has taken a back seat to browsing on the Internet, instant messaging, MP3 music, text-messaging, and of course -- online gaming. The number of people in your family circles that have served in the military are few and far between. Most family members shun the military; describe it as a horrible death sentence to anyone who joins. Your direct exposure to the armed forces are only from what you read or hear in the media today. As with all media, the only news the people find interesting is bad news -- so that is all that is covered. I render a guess why most family members think the military is such a horrible place to be involved with. The media has been their one and only educational source.

In a volunteer system, the armed forces needs a way to keep themselves on the list of considerations within the households of America. Since everybody hates those recruiters who run up to you in the mall parking lot or around a college campus to discuss a possible future in the military, they need to find a new way to communicate and describe themselves to the young adults of today. Enter: America's Army, the official Army Game. Of course, there are already several military-style video games out there. But, none of them can claim authenticity in their model design or game flow. However, a game designed by the U.S. Army can certainly do this and more.

Of course there is controversy!

The Army Game Project has been met with heavy resistance from anti-war organizations, protesters, and the alike. These folks carry a few mottos, such as War Is Not A Game. One of their concerns is that the military is dummying down the seriousness, the reality, and the psychological effects of war through the use of video games.

Well, not to point the overwhelmingly obvious, but they are very right -- war is not a game! Rest assured that the effects of war are extremely serious -- severe in-fact. However, this is a little unfair for the Army since this is not the point or purpose of the Army Game Project.

Now, there may be a few out there that simply can not grasp the whole entire scope of war. But the general overview is pretty straight forward - face two groups of people at each other, arm them with their best weapons they have and have them fight to the death. The government that rules the winning team proves that whatever it was saying is true and gets to keep whatever the other government had. Until we invent the device that captures the other government's military without fighting, we will continue to do this by fighting. It is disgusting; It is destructive; It is very painful; It is also extremely necessary if you do not wish to be ruled by another government who would like your land, your resources, and your right to freely complain and point out it's flaws and your power to get rid of them.

The America's Army game will never be able to hide the facts of war and it is not trying to. Parents and guardians already do a fine job educating the children with stories filled with anguish, sadness and death to sway their opinion of the military service. But the Army deserves their chance to show that it is not as bad as was told and show the things from their perspective. They should be able to focus on what is important to them, what is available to them, and what life is like for them and people like you and me serving in the military.

Now, one can start the game and see that this is a classic First Person Shooter model. The first frequently asked question that comes up here is "... if this is suppose to be realistic, why don't we show the horrifying screams of the seriously wounded or the crying of family members when the innocent are caught in the cross fire?" Before I approach this , let me say that I am not a spokes person for America's Army or the U.S. Army and what I say are based on my own interpretation and views. With that said and out of the way, here is my answer to this question and other similar questions:

  1. The game must be ESRB rated for Teens.
    Since folks were rightfully concerned with what we show our children in games, the ESRB was created to assure those guardians out there that the content contained is at a level of expected nature. The age of young adults making their career choices start between 16 and 17 years old. They have completed their basic education, High School graduate, and are now stepping into their careers. So the game must be accessible to 16, 17, 18, and 19 years of age. In order to do this, a game rated "T" for teens is required.
  2. Any initiative that needs publicity for success requires marketing.
    Marketing strategies adjust according to the demand of it's target audience. It's important to understand that the military does not want just anyone. If you don't *want* to be in the military, then you don't really do them any good if all you are going to be is miserable. This makes sense, right? They are looking for people who really want to be there. Who will contribute and be productive. As in any business, they are targeting highly motivated; forward moving individuals who are dedicated and will observe their duties to the fullest. People with this type of mind set are drawn to certain activities, one of those activities being online gaming; specifically - first-person-shooters. With the risk of having to get this right the first time, the Army could have picked no better target. Bulls-eye!
  3. Enjoyment is Success!
    Let's me be honest, I would not put those things in there either. Not because I want to hide it, but there is a difference between hiding it and simply not showing it. The game is suppose to be a game too; Relatively fun and invite the user to play again. I wouldn't show type of content to respect the feelings and comfort of my broad audience.

They have also called America's Army a "recruiting tool in disguise". Well, yes and no. Yes -- the hope is to have young adults interested enough in the Army to volunteer for service. No -- it is not a recruiting tool; its success is not measured the same as a recruiting tool. The reference to "recruiting tool" is by far a misunderstanding. So large in fact, that I could not believe it when I heard this reference used internally within the project. In reality, to call it a recruiting tool does not give it the justice it deserves. But, I guess you can say Tomato anyway you want!

But good way to separate the semantics is by understanding these two points:

  • The measure of success for a recruiting tool is how many people have been recruited through the initiative
  • The measure of success for a communication tool is how many people the initiative has communicated with
The Army Game Project reports its success or failures based on the number of people it has reached. Therefore, it is NOT a recruiting tool -- it is a communication tool. Sure, there are studies done to find out how many recruits have played the game. In business, I would want to know if the success of my communication tools has any bearing on my sales. I would also have a targeted area, audience and marketing -- just like this program.

As we said earlier, it's a volunteer system and we should face the fact that the military is one of the least listed career options in today's America. The sovereignty of our nation; our way of life, counts on this blanket of security. This job falls on the men and women in this country who volunteer for service. The job of securing our nation is a dirty one and we must take responsibility and be responsible enough to do what we have to do to survive. While doing so, we must not critisize the areas we make mistakes or when we get dirt on us. War is hell and the dirt comes with the job.

Where I stand.

I am an Anti-War personality. I truly believe that war will never solve the problem but it will certainly change the course of history which will be dictated by those who win the wars. No, our problems are much deeper than war can touch. And using war leaves a heavy psychological scar on the human mind, deep enough to encourage many levels of anger, animosity, and retaliation through strong independent leadership. War breeds war; violence breeds violence; evil begets evil.

So you may ask: "Why do you support and work for this game project if you are so anti-war and anti-military?" My answer is simple. First, I am anti-war but I'm not so much anti-military. I have to admit that our nation requires a strong presence in armed forces to prevent other countries from threatening our way of life and invading. That is a fact whether you or I like it or not. I support the game as a game (I am a big-time gamer!). I also support the Army's need for a new strategy to bridge the communication gap between itself and the rest of society.

My final thought on this is that I disagree with the protesters targeting this game project like they do. They need to drop the "War is not a game" slogan as the only group of people suggesting this is the protesters themselves. They also need to 'adjust fire' for their concerns with the middle east situation (ie: IRAQ). Those decisions are not made in the department that manages the game project. In fact -- they are not even suggested here.



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* Apple CEO Tim Cook: I don't want my nephew on a social network - Business Insider
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