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US Military Recruits Children: "America's Army" Video Game Violates International Law

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DogPoundPup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:17 PM
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US Military Recruits Children: "America's Army" Video Game Violates International Law
In May of 2002, the United States Army invaded E3, the annual video game convention held in Los Angeles. At the city's Convention Center, young game enthusiasts mixed with camouflaged soldiers, Humvees and a small tank parked near the entrance. Thundering helicopter sound effects drew the curious to the Army's interactive display, where a giant video screen flashed the words "Empower yourself. Defend America ... You will be a soldier."(1)

The Army was unveiling its latest recruitment tool, the "America's Army" video game, free to download online or pick up at a recruiting station, and now available for purchase on the Xbox, PlayStation, cell phones and Gameboy game consoles. Since its release, the "game" has gone on to attain enormous popularity with over 30,000 players everyday, more than nine million registered users, and version 3.0 set for launch in September. "America's Army" simulates the Army experience, immersing players in basic training before they can go on to play specialized combat roles. Most of the gameplay takes place in cyberspace where virtual Mideast cities, hospitals and oil rigs serve as backdrops for players to obliterate each other. As a "first person shooter," the game allows players to "see what a soldier sees" in real combat situations - peek around corners, take fine aim, chose weapons that replicate those actually used by the US Army.

For the game's commercial developers, realism is one its strongest selling points. Console version programmers were shipped to military training facilities in Wyoming, where they ran boot camp obstacle courses, fired weapons at the shooting range and got whisked around on helicopters. Back at hip, safe San Francisco Bay Area game companies, Army weapons specialists worked with developers to ensure aim, fire, sound and reload functions for all of the game's weapons were as close to the real thing as possible. The Army also ensured that players learn real weapons skills such as breath control and the reload time for a M4 carbine. And in order to edge closer to the Army's goal of "realism" and "authenticity," several of the game's missions are based on actual combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the training simulators and firing ranges are modeled on the real life versions at Ft. Benning, Ft. Lewis and Ft. Polk. In a 2005 press release, Ubisoft, the multimillion-dollar publisher of the console version of the game, wrote that "America's Army" is the "deepest and most realistic military game ever to hit consoles," hoping that it gave players a "realistic, action-packed, military experience."(2)

But behind the fun and games is an attempt, in the words of a military booklet on "America's Army," "to build a game for Army strategic communication in support of recruiting." The Army spent $6 million to develop the game at the Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute (MOVES) before handing it over to private companies for adaptation to the console formats in 2004. As the name implies, the MOVES Institute is the military center for creating virtual training environments and simulators. A MOVES Institute booklet proclaims a later version of the game, "America's Army: Special Forces," was developed specifically to increase the number of Army Special Forces recruits. "The Department of Defense want to double the number of Special Forces Soldiers, so essential did they prove in Afghanistan and northern Iraq; consequently, orders ... trickled down the chain of command and found application in the current release of 'America's Army.'"(3)

Like so many aspects of contemporary military operations, the development of later versions of the game has been handed over to corporations for private profit.
http://www.truthout.org/article/us-military-recruits-ch...
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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:21 PM
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1. It's biggest crime is being a mediocre game.
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Smith_3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:30 PM
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2. I played it once. Sucks.
Play Counterstrike instead.

By the way, a funny thing about that army game is that the "other side" always is terrorists from your point of view (and you from theirs). Pretty cheesy.
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YOY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:43 PM
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3. Pathetic failure actually. Crappy game and failed at what it was supposed to do.
It didn't increase enlistment any at all. It seems the kids know that in real life there is no 1up in the battlefield and when your "life meter" is half gone because you got your arm shot off, picking up a health pack would not get you back on your feet instantly.

Who knew gamers could separate reality from fantasy?

Next time someone pitches a connection between video games and real world violence consider that.

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zazen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 02:53 PM
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4. developed right here in Cary, next to company with creator of Grand Theft Auto
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 02:54 PM by zazen
The guy who runs the company serves on some educational gaming grants we've developed in partnership with NC State. I wrote about this on Smirking Chimp a few years back, but as usual was totally ignored (having a female name and all. A guy I knew had a female handle for a while and couldn't believe the way he was attacked and ignored. That's why I read DU!) But my wounded ego aside, I'm glad someone's doing something about this. I spoke out in a few team meetings at the university about partnering with this company, but the computer scientists think questioning any form of technology or its content is heresy (in part due to their dollops of federal funding.) DOD and DHS are subsidizing a hell of a lot of faculty and graduate students.
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