We’ve come a long way from Pong, and the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are taking advantage of it with new military recruitment marketing techniques. World War I had its iconic American military recruitment posters. The next world war, God forbid there is a next one, will be using video game platforms, streaming sites, and eSports to the same effect.
Why Military Recruitment Marketing With Video Games Is a Level Up
“Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.” An old Latin phrase that translates to, “Times are changed; we also are changed with them.” And so, too, does the way military branches market themselves to prospective recruits. Inspirational military recruitment posters won’t cut it anymore. It’s time to hit the sticks and stream it with gusto!
One avant-garde example comes from the recently released video game America’s Army. What began as a recruitment tool in 2002 became a video game series that outlived its original seven-year life span and would be a great success for 20 years. Although America’s Army’s time is coming to an end, it was a trailblazing effort that would spark a renewed interest in young recruits and set the stage for what was and is to come from military video games and military recruitment marketing.
U.S. Military Video Game Recruitment Has Sparked Controversy
The military using video games to recruit should feel like a natural development. There are countless examples of war-based video games, some historical, some fictional. Younger generations flock to the Internet, with video games accounting for a huge sum of their usage. But despite an obvious target market and opportunity, not everyone feels that this is a good idea.
One notable opponent to such advertisements and recruitment strategies is U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Although AOC can be found on Twitch as a streamer, her stance is that, because of the ages of many within Twitch audiences, the military should avoid military recruitment marketing with video games, which targets children.
“Children should not be targeted in general for many marketing purposes in addition to military service. Right now, currently, children on platforms such as Twitch are bombarded with banner ads linked to recruitment signup forms that can be submitted by children as young as 12 years old. These are not education outreach programs for the military,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
This pinpoints the often complicated relationship between the military and the video game industry. On one hand, the military is working to find ways to recruit members to ensure that America remains protected. On the other hand is the balance of ethical methods for recruitment. As the U.S. Armed Forces continue to navigate these intricacies, the military using video games to recruit is slated to continue through eSports and the increasing interest in streaming.
Using eSports To Recruit Military Personnel
During World War II, boxing was one of the preferred ways to enjoy some entertainment. The sport brought together troops as a great way to get some exercise, blow off some steam, and enjoy some comradery. Today, you’re just as likely to find our troops taunting their fellow servicemen after celebrating a Victory Royale in Fortnite.
Many branches of the military can be found on Twitch, a popular video game streaming website, showcasing their eSports skills. There are several popular games military personnel enjoy, including Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Overwatch. Soldiers take part in a show of competitiveness and can even win prizes such as video game consoles, but things are far from just a game here. These games help build skills, improve morale, and recruit new soldiers thanks to video game military recruitment marketing.
“Since the launch of AFG and the creation of the Space Force teams, we have learned that gaming has affected more Guardians and Airmen than we initially predicted. We have heard countless stories about how gaming while serving our country has provided an avenue to have fun playing games and communicate with friends and family around the globe, network with co-workers, provide an avenue to get through hard or stressful times and a moment to unplug from the daily grind, all while enjoying the virtual genre of their choosing,” said TSgt. Maurice Moyer, Space Liaison Officer, as reported by Forbes.
Tournaments continue to bring in a sizable audience. The 22 events hosted by the Navy alone captured more than four million viewers, many of which are younger and eligible or soon-to-be eligible for service. Teenagers and young adults have helped revolutionize video games and caused streaming to go from a niche market right into mainstream success. If you can think of a better way to inspire enlistment than being paid to play Madden while serving your country, we’re all ears.
Suggested read: Does $50,000 Sound Good? Check Out the New Army Enlistment Bonus
Video Games and Military Recruitment Have an Interesting Future
Video games, military recruitment, and teamwork all go hand in hand. As technology advances, each military branch will be able to find new, interesting ways to reach out to recruits that will continue to evolve. Military recruitment marketing continues to grow with more than 15,000 recruiters, private agencies getting involved, and more than $3 billion invested into military recruiting each year.
Finding the next generation of our nation’s heroes comes in many different shapes and forms. It is a necessary process that helps keep our Armed Forces at the top of its game. Video games have entered the mix, and despite some pushback, it doesn’t look like they’re going away any time soon.