Image created by esteemed Deviant Partridge.
I can’t believe I’ve only just read about this! And I especially can’t believe that I found this blindingly horrific piece of news buried in the bottom corner of page 12 in a British videogaming magazine, imaginatively (or suavely), titled Games(TM).
I am talking, of course, about the Army Gaming Championship – one of the most worryingly depressing and shamefully cynical competitions since Stalin pulled “Simon says, stand up if you’re a dissident” during a national contest of the popular game back in 1935. Sponsored by the US Army, the AGC invites videogamers to compete for cash prizes playing titles such as Gears of War, Resistance and COD3 – but only if they consent to being interviewed by a recruitment officer. What this suggests to me is that, even if they are lacking in equipment, tactics, leadership, ethics, resources and an exit strategy, the US Army (or at least the marketing and recruitment corps) still possess plenty of guts.
The Army Gaming Championship kicked off on the historically significant 4 July (significant, that is, because it evokes memories of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum buddying it up to comedic effect in the classic movie, SFX-Fest III – Return of the Exploding Buildings) and has a fully-fledged website so you can follow the progress of the impressionable idiots taking part – take this guy (one of the homepage “popular profiles) for example…
Games(TM) end their decisive, if short, article on a very resonant note, saying: “…the goal seems worryingly clear: to make people associate war with having fun and winning money in an attempt to encourage them to sign up for service.”
At a time when a videogame that pushes the boundaries of violence to such an extent that it has been banned in the UK (yes, Manhunt 2, I’m talking about you), I find it mind-blowing that such a brazen act of irresponsibility can be undertaken by the US Army without cries of “WTF!?”. Though, should I be surprised? American marketing has never been famed for its subtlety, so I should probably expect the recruitment (or, dare I say it, indoctrination) of their youngsters into the armed forces to follow a similarly in-your-face trend. After all, if any of you have had the misfortune to visit the website of the US Army (the slogan of which I cleverly twisted to become the title of this article), you will see that it presents itself like a cheesy videogame.
Suggestion for a new Army motto: Lure ’em in, send ’em out, cart ’em back (but keep the images of this off of CNN please).