Army Recruits Video Gamers
Latest Recruiting Tool Winning Over Hearts, Minds Of Teens
WEST POINT, N.Y., March 30, 2004
(CBS) The soldiers are real. But they're also actors, staging scenes for the Army's latest war game.
It's a video game created by the U.S. Army to win over the hearts and minds of American teenagers.
And, as CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta reports, judging by these faces, mission accomplished.
Game player Rob Calcagni believes the game is going to work on a lot of guys his age.
"Definitely, because it's a fun game," says Calcagni.
The game, "America's Army" has become such an overnight hit, the Army staged a tournament in New York. Recruiters were waiting at the door.
"This is a fantastic recruiting opportunity," says Lt. Col. John Gillette. "We would like to sign up as many as possible. We are looking for five to ten."
One of these teens enlisted after playing the game, the other two are thinking about it, which is exactly what the creator of "America's Army" had in mind.
"We look at all the things that the Army is doing that is under the control of the Army that captures people's attention and the game is number one," says the game's creator Col. Casey Wardynksi.
America's Army has surpassed even the Pentagon's expectations. It's now the number one online action game in the country. The Army hasn't seen a recruiting tool this effective since "Be all that you can be."
But psychology professor Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan, a critic of violent video games, complains "America's Army" isn't real enough.
"War is not a game," he says.
"The video game does provide a sanitized view of violence," says Bushman. "For example, when you shoot someone or when you are shot you see a puff of blood; you don't see anyone suffering or writhing in pain."
"Kids aren't stupid," says Wardynski. "They know if they come into the army there is a reason that we have rifles and tanks and all that stuff."
The players insist they understand the meaning of "game over."
"If you are going to join the Army, you know the risk," says one gamer, Bart Koscinski. "In this game you might die like eight times in like 15 minutes. In real life people know what they are getting themselves into."
New editions of "America's Army" are now being developed for home video game systems -- a move that will deploy even more young cyber-soldiers to the military's virtual battlefield.
© MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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