The U.S. Army last summer unveiled its
most recent addition to its recruitment campaign – a computer game
called “America’s Army.” Later this month, the military will
release a new version of the game, making it available for download
on the Internet free of charge. This game glamorizes war and
encourages violence by producing a false image of the real-life
military. By introducing this interactive approach to recruiting,
the military is misleading the young people who comprise the game’s
target audience and undermines the goal of a professional

Supporters of the recruitment program might argue that there are
already many violent video games available to the public, and to
single out “America’s Army” as worse than the rest would be unfair.
And while it’s true that games like “Grand Theft Auto 3” allow
players – among other horrors – to beat pedestrians to death,
“America’s Army” is unique in that it is clearly a recruitment tool
for said army. “Grand Theft Auto 3” may provide violent images and
dubious takes on morality, it does so expressly for entertainment
purposes only. There is no mob boss hiding in the shadows,
distributing free copies of the game to children he hopes will one
day steal vehicles for him. The key difference between “America’s
Army” and other video games is the influence the game is intended
to have on the participant’s life. The military hopes to reach a
younger, more impressionable demographic.

Worse, the world portrayed in “America’s Army” is deceptively
unrealistic. Players are lead to believe that everyday life in the
U.S. Army is as adventurous and exciting as the scenarios created
in the game. Battles are constantly fought and combat seems
exciting, but since players experience both from the comfort of
their own bedrooms, there is never any sense of real danger. Also,
because the game carries a rating of “T” for teen, players will
encounter only a small fraction of the gore that real Army officers
face. The inevitable death and destruction of war are glossed over
in favor of the excitement and intricacies of operating big, bad
army weapons. Real combat is never this clean and simple. The most
realistic and powerful war images from movies are often the most
graphic and horrifying.

There is nothing wrong with the Army advertising or recruiting;
in fact, it is important for the military to remain completely
voluntary. But the armed forces need to re-examine the goals of
their recruitment policies. They should focus their recruitment
techniques on the valor of courage, and place more emphasis on the
large responsibility of our soldiers to protect basic human rights
and liberties. Though the days when an Uncle Sam poster could
inspire and motivate the masses may be gone, we have not entered an
era when it is suitable to deceive and manipulate the very children
our soldiers fight to protect.









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