Vets Protest America's Army Tournament

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Vets Protest America's Army Tournament

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A group of peaceful-minded military veterans took to the streets in California over the weekend to protest the U.S. Army's use of a gaming tournament to draw in young recruits, likening the tactic to "military pedophilia."

Enlisting our country's youth, training them to kill, and then sending them off to war is nothing new for the U.S. government. However, a small gathering of military veterans, members of the Veterans for Peace organization, took issue with a U.S. Army-sponsored videogame tournament and staged a protest outside the event Saturday.

Designed to drum up interest for America's Army - a tactical first-person shooter developed by the army as a recruitment and PR tool - the competition was held at the army training center in Rancho Cordova and drew many teen participants.

"It's like giving candy to kids," protestor John C. Reiger, president of the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace, told ABC News 10. "It's sort of like military pedophilia in a way, preying on our young people."

The America's Army tournament was open to participants ages 17 and up, though teens under 17 could take part in the event if accompanied by a parent or guardian. A military spokesperson defended the event as just another opportunity for "people" to "become familiar" with the Army. Doublespeak aside, it doesn't take too much reading between the lines to realize the military actually sees it as a prime opportunity for teens to be recruited.

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I think the army is getting their target audiences mixed up. For people to enlist they would have to spend time away from their games during which time they would have to be physically active. "Gamer" dosn't exactly fit the description of a person who would jump at that opportunity.

I don't understand it, what ever happened to setting up a stall at a careers fair with two soldiers and an empty gun on the table?

Recruiting events like this strike me as dishonest at best, trying to give kids an idealised and sanitised view of what signing up will entail.

What and nobody in amercia knows about the army?
Events like these do not promote knowledge about the army- they just give a varnished veiw of it.

you have to be a moron in today's culture not to have become completely disillusioned with the idea of a real war, hell, even the COD games have those rather sobering quotes when you die.
(admittedly however, there are always ignorant people who will be mislead)

Unfortunately there are enough people, especially in the US, who can actually be influenced by propaganda like America's army and might even join the military because of that. I completely agree with those veterans. I wish the medium of video games wouldn't be abused for things like this...

Honestly I think it's disgusting that the US army developed AA as a tool for encouraging people to enlist. It's becoming a problem in Australia too as for some time now they've been running defence force advertisments which make it all seem like a game. The message of the advertisments is pretty much 'join the army and play with real tanks in a large game-like environment.'

Virtual Battlespace 2 is the game that they need to use, not that barely-concealed arcade title that is America's Army. That way, they can weed out most of the idiots who think that war is glamorous, and concentrate on the ones who have the right instincts. I sure as hell wouldn't want most America's Army players at my back in a combat zone.

Mullahgrrl:
In sweden, things are much diffrent

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-Oab6nvJuE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK197dhf0Cg&feature=related

Wow, the Swedish armed forces fight some weird battles.

ah war vets the title confused me.
was thinking of an animal vet.

Well, the Swedish ads still seem like a good way to get recruits. The classic "Are you good enough" approach. A fair bit more honest than making war seem like a game though.

Just thinking of how many times I've died horrible deaths in games even though my character can take like three bullets to the brain without death there is no WAY I'd be joining the military.

Nimbus:
I think the army is getting their target audiences mixed up. For people to enlist they would have to spend time away from their games during which time they would have to be physically active. "Gamer" dosn't exactly fit the description of a person who would jump at that opportunity.

I'm not sure I fully agree. I mean, I spend a lot of time gaming, however last time I checked, I would get a 300 on the army physical fitness test (the marine one is a different matter). "Gamer" doesn't only apply to one small subset of people.

By the way, Mullahgrrl, is military service still mandatory for Swedish citizens to keep their citizenships if they live outside of the country? I'm asking because I really want to keep my citizenship, and wouldn't want to just lose it because of a law I was not aware of.

I find it disgusting that the US (and even Australian) army would show war in such a fashionable light... yes, they need larger numbers, but lying isn't the best way.

It's a brilliant marketing tool...that said, I'm not sure that's the best way to recruit soldiers. Yes, the game is fun, but in real life, you don't respawn...

You're forgetting it's easy for younger folks to get swept up in illusions of glory in combat.

"War is delightful to those who have not experienced it."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

Before reading the thread: What? What the hell would veterinarians have against America's army?

After reading the thread: Oh... Well that makes a bit more sense.

I've never played the game, so I have no idea how propaganda heavy it is. But I've always thought that no matter what means they use, military recruitment targeting teenagers is a bit nasty.

The Iron Ninja:
Before reading the thread: What? What the hell would veterinarians have against America's army?

After reading the thread: Oh... Well that makes a bit more sense.

I've never played the game, so I have no idea how propaganda heavy it is. But I've always thought that no matter what means they use, military recruitment targeting teenagers is a bit nasty.

The propaganda is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. You can hear stories from people currently enlisted and you actually have to go through boot camp before you get to play online.

WTF?

Did everybody start drinking the Jack Thompson juice or something?

Point the First: Playing x hours of AA doesn't turn anybody into mindless zombies that shamble towards the recruiting station the minute they turn 18, no more so than racing games turn players into drag racers, guitar hero players into guitarists, simcity players into city councilpeople, Madden players try out for the football team, or GTA players into carjackers. Did I miss anybody?

Point the Second: For those who say AA is nothing more than jingoistic propaganda, that's as may be, but it's not as if the game exists in a vacuum. There's no shortage of access to opposing viewpoints, and there are no laws against printing, broadcasting, internet distribution, or even physically demonstrating in person, support for opposing viewpoints. And I would also rate AA well below [insert Tom Clancy title here] on the jingoistic propaganda scale. And you do you think that there's an American who doesn't believe that our government lies? Go forth, Diogenes, and find him. Our entire nation was built upon a fundamental mistrust of government.

Point the Third: Does anybody really believe that AA is the most sanitized presentation of war in the market? Really? Allow me to point you towards Falcon 4.0, Harpoon, CoD, the previously mentioned Toma Clancy, and really, can you really get any more sanitized than Halo, GearsoW, Quake, or Unreal? And do you think there are players out there who are playing AA exclusively, either by parental mandate, or choice?

Point the Fourth: How did we get from 14, 15, and 16 year olds lying about their ages to go fight in WWII, to deciding that 18 year olds (or 17 year olds with one parent's consent) can't make an informed decision? You do realize that in America, 18 is the legal age to vote? Are you really suggesting that an 18 year old can't be trusted to make an informed decision as to whether or not to enlist, but can still be trusted to make an informed decision in the voting booth? And are you also suggesting that a parent who gives their consent for a 17 year old to enlist is guilty of child abuse or neglect or endangerment? And while you might make a case for the last charge, bear in mind that the rates of serious injuries or fatalities for teenagers is far higher on the roads than in the military.

Point the Fifth: Everybody realizes that to enlist in the army, you really have to, you know, actually enlist in the army? Which means going through Basic, which, while an incredibly simple task, it's still possible to wash out of? I mean, you might have to really, really work at it, but you can, in fact, wash out of Basic.

Quit drinking the JT koolaid, mkay?

John C. Reiger:
It's like giving candy to kids. It's sort of like military pedophilia in a way, preying on our young people.

Fuckin' right.

bkd69:
WTF?
Point the Fourth: How did we get from 14, 15, and 16 year olds lying about their ages to go fight in WWII, to deciding that 18 year olds (or 17 year olds with one parent's consent) can't make an informed decision? You do realize that in America, 18 is the legal age to vote? Are you really suggesting that an 18 year old can't be trusted to make an informed decision as to whether or not to enlist, but can still be trusted to make an informed decision in the voting booth? And are you also suggesting that a parent who gives their consent for a 17 year old to enlist is guilty of child abuse or neglect or endangerment? And while you might make a case for the last charge, bear in mind that the rates of serious injuries or fatalities for teenagers is far higher on the roads than in the military.

Point the Fifth: Everybody realizes that to enlist in the army, you really have to, you know, actually enlist in the army? Which means going through Basic, which, while an incredibly simple task, it's still possible to wash out of? I mean, you might have to really, really work at it, but you can, in fact, wash out of Basic.

From personal experience as a fairly naive 18 year old I can tell you that the Army's idea of an 'informed decision' is to give you only the information they want you to have. And this information tends to be 'varnished,' as an above poster stated. If they really wanted you to have an informed decision they'd have you visit amputated soldiers, graves, and families who have lost loved ones so that people truly understand what they signing up for. Or perhaps teach potential recruits about the dangers of financial irresponsibility which lead soldiers down a path of virtual servitude to the armed forces with no real freedom to leave. Pay-day loans, anyone?

Simply giving a person the right to vote or the right to enlist doesn't necessarily mean they are making an informed decision. I think that is what some of the posters are complaining about.

And while you can wash out of basic, the system is designed to prevent that at all costs. The military has nearly perfected the combination of manipulation tactics necessary to motivate people to remain in and get through basic, at which point you are locked in. Despite that, it is possible to wash out. However, the fact that you can wash out of basic has no bearing on the Army's responsibility to ensure recruits are fully informed when making their decisions.

But, similar to real estate agents, full disclosure to recruits is not in their best interests so is not done.

I applaud the efforts of third parties to get involved and attempt to give potential recruits alternative viewpoints. Maybe if there was someone standing outside a recruiting station 15 years ago to give me these 'alternative viewpoints' I wouldn't have enlisted.

bkd69:

Point the First: Playing x hours of AA doesn't turn anybody into mindless zombies that shamble towards the recruiting station the minute they turn 18, no more so than racing games turn players into drag racers, guitar hero players into guitarists, simcity players into city councilpeople, Madden players try out for the football team, or GTA players into carjackers. Did I miss anybody?

First, the problem here isn't whether or not it actually does that, but that the Army wants it to.

bkd69:
Point the Second: For those who say AA is nothing more than jingoistic propaganda, that's as may be, but it's not as if the game exists in a vacuum. There's no shortage of access to opposing viewpoints, and there are no laws against printing, broadcasting, internet distribution, or even physically demonstrating in person, support for opposing viewpoints. And I would also rate AA well below [insert Tom Clancy title here] on the jingoistic propaganda scale. And you do you think that there's an American who doesn't believe that our government lies? Go forth, Diogenes, and find him. Our entire nation was built upon a fundamental mistrust of government.

You mean the no blood HOO RAH game of America's Army? As for opposing view points, in media yes, in video games barely. You don't have to pay attention when playing AA to get the impression the army rocks, but in, say, CoD you have to be more awake to realize that the ultimate message (At least of 2 and 4) is that war is hell and more something that has to be done rather than a glorious thing

bkd69:
Point the Third: Does anybody really believe that AA is the most sanitized presentation of war in the market? Really? Allow me to point you towards Falcon 4.0, Harpoon, CoD, the previously mentioned Toma Clancy, and really, can you really get any more sanitized than Halo, GearsoW, Quake, or Unreal? And do you think there are players out there who are playing AA exclusively, either by parental mandate, or choice?

Again, no blood at all, lots of bunny hopping, pretty basic environments and friendly environments. The whole thing kind of feels like an opfor event. Unreal, Quake, and Gears of War are not sanitized at all. Unreal Tournament is about blood and gore and cloning, and everyone's a dick. Gears of War involves a wrecked, bombed out city and a group of people being discriminated against, among other things. Quake involves people being shifted into a human machines, and while I don't much care for Quake 4 the stroggification process is still one of my favorite scenes for the sheer horror of it.

You could argue Halo is, and outside of the novels you'd be pretty close to being right. In the novels, way way off. The military is presented as a bunch of amoral assholes doing what they think they have to do help humanity survive. And then some.

bkd69:
Point the Fourth: How did we get from 14, 15, and 16 year olds lying about their ages to go fight in WWII, to deciding that 18 year olds (or 17 year olds with one parent's consent) can't make an informed decision? You do realize that in America, 18 is the legal age to vote? Are you really suggesting that an 18 year old can't be trusted to make an informed decision as to whether or not to enlist, but can still be trusted to make an informed decision in the voting booth? And are you also suggesting that a parent who gives their consent for a 17 year old to enlist is guilty of child abuse or neglect or endangerment? And while you might make a case for the last charge, bear in mind that the rates of serious injuries or fatalities for teenagers is far higher on the roads than in the military.

I'm not going to suggest a parent giving consent to a 17 year old is guilty of child abuse, nor am I saying we can't trust 18 year olds to make decently informed decisions, but the army is not the place to get that information. Also, yes, people pretended to be older to intentionally join the army. They also had no idea what the hell was really going on and viewed the World Wars as shiny pretty places of glory and fun.

They were not.

bkd69:
Point the Fifth: Everybody realizes that to enlist in the army, you really have to, you know, actually enlist in the army? Which means going through Basic, which, while an incredibly simple task, it's still possible to wash out of? I mean, you might have to really, really work at it, but you can, in fact, wash out of Basic.

Yes, we know. No one's saying you play AA, oops, you got drafted.

bkd69:
Point the First: Playing x hours of AA doesn't turn anybody into mindless zombies that shamble towards the recruiting station the minute they turn 18, no more so than racing games turn players into drag racers, guitar hero players into guitarists, simcity players into city councilpeople, Madden players try out for the football team, or GTA players into carjackers. Did I miss anybody?

Cultural ideas about soldiering, violence, and masculinity figure very heavily into people's opinions and understanding of warfare. What's unreasonable about questioning media that propagate those ideas?

bkd69:
Point the Second: For those who say AA is nothing more than jingoistic propaganda, that's as may be, but it's not as if the game exists in a vacuum. There's no shortage of access to opposing viewpoints, and there are no laws against printing, broadcasting, internet distribution, or even physically demonstrating in person, support for opposing viewpoints. And I would also rate AA well below [insert Tom Clancy title here] on the jingoistic propaganda scale. And you do you think that there's an American who doesn't believe that our government lies? Go forth, Diogenes, and find him. Our entire nation was built upon a fundamental mistrust of government.

And that particular groups of veterans is opposing it by... physically protesting in person. So, what's the problem here? And where is the "JT"?

-- Alex

Let's see... Army presents sanitized view of war in order to recruit people? Woah! Never seen that before!

Vets protest army? Man! Usually you have to go back to any point in American history to get a scoop like that!

Seriously, Vietnam war, Bonus Army, Civil War, Iraq war... The army will always do whatever they can to encourage enlistment, and war vets will always get ticked off that the truth isn't being presented in its entirety.

So, are we all agreed then, that AA isn't the magic Jack Thompson mind control game? And can we all agree that there's likely no AA player that's playing AA exclusively? And can we all agree that there's likely no AA player for whom AA is their sole source of news and information?

If we can agree on all those points, I fail to see the issue here.

Unless the army has somehow perfected some way of embedding mind control rays into the game, there's no difference between this advergame, burger king shilling whoppers via xbox, and the NFL pitching $7 hot dogs and season tickets via madden, and I don't see the difference between JT shouting GTA makes kids steal cars, and everybody else saying America's Army makes kids enlist.

I don't get what people are upset or pissed about.

Not the vet, mind you. I know what they are upset about. And they are right, war IS hell (I had an uncle in Vietnam and a grandfather in WW2).

But the army needs people. It's a shame we don't live in a world where the army isn't needed (For any country), but they are. And they need recruits!

If I enlisted in the Army I would definately try to become a helicopter or tank crewman because it seems to me that they hate the infantry. They give the groups I mentioned above all the best equipment milions of dollars can buy: Abrams tanks, strikers, Apache Longbows, and all the support needed to maintain them. But for the infannty? Lets give them outdated body armor(Interceptor) and tell everyone that the superior armor(Dragon Skin) is actually a piece of crap without actually testing it. And for weapons? Lets give them outdated M4s (while fairly accurate) that have reduced stopping power and an unreliable operating system instead of more modern weapons like the FN Scar, HK 416, later model XM8s, or a bullpup so you don't have to sacrifice barrel length for overall length.

Umm... I always found this game excruciatingly difficult... if anything it made me realize just how much I DON'T want to join the army...

Oh wow, the army is recruiting, what a suprise. Most people should be smart enough to see that this game is a recruiting tool, and just like any tool it's the players choice whether or not to listen to it (or in this case play it). I really don't see the big deal, the only people who are going to get suckered by it probably aren't the kind of people who are gonna make it through basic training, and the rest of the people are there on their own free will, they're allowing themselves to be open to this sort of recruiting tactic.

Seriously it's not like some sort of brainwash machine that all who play will join, it's a fun game that shows the same aspects of the army that they've always tried to sell you on. Same message different medium, and I don't see a problem with it.

TheSapphireKnight:
If I enlisted in the Army I would definately try to become a helicopter or tank crewman because it seems to me that they hate the infantry. They give the groups I mentioned above all the best equipment milions of dollars can buy: Abrams tanks, strikers, Apache Longbows, and all the support needed to maintain them. But for the infannty? Lets give them outdated body armor(Interceptor) and tell everyone that the superior armor(Dragon Skin) is actually a piece of crap without actually testing it. And for weapons? Lets give them outdated M4s (while fairly accurate) that have reduced stopping power and an unreliable operating system instead of more modern weapons like the FN Scar, HK 416, later model XM8s, or a bullpup so you don't have to sacrifice barrel length for overall length.

Dragon Skin did suck. It was fine for protecting against straight on fire and that was it. And soldiers almost never deal with straight-on fire; because the standard firing position encourages side-on fire, for which Dragon Skin offered zero protection. They did test it and it bombed miserably. It also weighs twice as much as Interceptor, which was unacceptable. You try toting around a vest that weighs 60 fucking pounds not including equipment and you tell me how combat effective you will be.

It's not the military's fault that the maker of Dragon Skin tried to do an end-run around the testings board by using a propaganda campaign to force the military to accept their horrible ineffective design and failed.

As for the bullpups they are still trying to work out all the bugs in the design. Bullpups are notorious for monstrous muzzle climb due the significant difference in balancing. There are also some other major hurdles they have get through to reach acceptable levels of reliability. Just like the M-16 went through development hell before they fixed all its problems. They went through over eight prototype designs before they got it right. You don't think they will do the same for the bullpups?

And the M-4 is only a 13 year design, it isn't very outdated at all. Although, I will grant you that the M-4 is a poor successor to the M-16 and is much less reliable than it's ancestor.

Eh, AA sucks anyway. If the military wants to sucker me in, they are going to have to try a lot harder.

....What's that you say? Bubble shield? I'm sold!

raemiel:

Mullahgrrl:
In sweden, things are much diffrent

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-Oab6nvJuE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK197dhf0Cg&feature=related

Wow, the Swedish armed forces fight some weird battles.

Wierd and unforgiving!

To track this type of misleading outreach, which many times violates Geneva Conventions, sign up for our free monthly newsletter at CAMMMO.org

Dhael:

TheSapphireKnight:
If I enlisted in the Army I would definately try to become a helicopter or tank crewman because it seems to me that they hate the infantry. They give the groups I mentioned above all the best equipment milions of dollars can buy: Abrams tanks, strikers, Apache Longbows, and all the support needed to maintain them. But for the infannty? Lets give them outdated body armor(Interceptor) and tell everyone that the superior armor(Dragon Skin) is actually a piece of crap without actually testing it. And for weapons? Lets give them outdated M4s (while fairly accurate) that have reduced stopping power and an unreliable operating system instead of more modern weapons like the FN Scar, HK 416, later model XM8s, or a bullpup so you don't have to sacrifice barrel length for overall length.

Dragon Skin did suck. It was fine for protecting against straight on fire and that was it. And soldiers almost never deal with straight-on fire; because the standard firing position encourages side-on fire, for which Dragon Skin offered zero protection. They did test it and it bombed miserably. It also weighs twice as much as Interceptor, which was unacceptable. You try toting around a vest that weighs 60 fucking pounds not including equipment and you tell me how combat effective you will be.

It's not the military's fault that the maker of Dragon Skin tried to do an end-run around the testings board by using a propaganda campaign to force the military to accept their horrible ineffective design and failed.

I don't know what you're smoking, but DS is superior to Interceptor. It just requires you to you know, actually take care of and maintain it and not dump it in 160 degree hot boxes for days on end. We're drilled to take care of our firearms like our own children, but not our body armor? Right.

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