The Well’s That Dry: Recruiting Gamers for Service

For far too many years I had a misconstrued idea of what the Marines did. Thanks to their recruitment videos, I believed they were an elite paranormal group meant to tackle the things the military couldn’t. When a rogue president ghost attacks The White House, when squids become an interlocking hive mind, or when a man hijacks a modified bulldozer and destroys a town; that’s when the Marines are called in. What else was I to suspect when the recruitment commercial looked like this?

I really thought they simulated lava monsters as part of your training. I was 13. And the army wants to recruit gamers? That’s going to disappoint so many boys when they find out the army doesn’t use battle axes.

Gamers do have increased reaction time and possibly a dissociation with violence, making them better potential shooters. But you’re digging through years of anger issues, a sloth lifestyle, and poor social skills to get to that. Yes, I’m generalizing. There are many athletic potentials who enjoy a few hours of Call of Duty. But if the Army wants to generalize that all you’ll do is control Predator drones, then I will too.

Why go after a demographic that’s going to cause you so many problems? Do you think they’ll be a good squad? I can’t even get a teammate to save me from a Smoker in L4D2. I don’t have the best hopes that they’ll care about friendly fire on the field. You’re also looking at trying to train some of the most un-healthy people possible. It’s like trying to plant crops in salted Earth.

The training is tough; you can make them shave that long hair that covers their one eye, have them do push-ups in the mud, cut their body fat down to five percent, but they’ll still have the mindset of a gamer. Gamers are drawn to these fantasy worlds because they can escape. They play Guitar Hero because it allows one to feel like a rock god in 1/30th the time it would to actually learn a guitar. The appeal of being a warrior god from one’s couch is tampered by having to go and get shrapnel in your leg.

Not war. War isn't as douchey.

Do you want to be a platoon leader dealing with renegade soldiers who run over cover and trying to go Quake 4 in a skirmish? Explaining to superiors on how you’re running out of ammunition constantly because each of your soldiers ends up pumping bullets into every corpse they find? Losing men constantly because they have the mindset that all wounds will heal if they just take cover for a few minutes?

Do we want to give this kind of guy better gun accuracy?

Again, generalization for the sake of comedy. Selling war, which should be respected but not glorified, as casual as a game is insulting to what it really is to serve.

Here’s a better marketing strategy: “Serving Gets You Laid”. Show scrawny guys who joined The Navy, worked out, became disciplined and came home to bang every girl in his small hometown. Two to four years away from home for six months of sex heaven will be a reasonable trade for many guys. Show old WWII pictures of men coming home to women waiting for them on the docks. Ignore that many of those couples were rushing things because the average life expectancy was 45.


About Chad Quandt

Writer for videogames, animation, the webcomic Suffrage. Master blocker in dodgeball. Barbecued with Corey Haim before he died.

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Chad Quandt, Videogames and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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