The Army Is Using Twitch To Recruit Gen Z
It's somewhat common knowledge that the U.S. Army has utilised video games to recruit and even train soldiers in the past, with nefarious campaigns like the America's Army video game series. However, their recruitment drive continues as recently leaked documents reveal plans to weaponise Twitch, Call of Duty, and even games media to recruit Gen Z.
Leaked U.S. Army Documents Reveal Sponsorships With COD, Twitch, And IGN
These plans were leaked by Vice's Motherboard on December 1, which revealed internal Army documents that detailed projected marketing spending for the whole of 2022. The breakdown showed designated funds for various media, such as $750,000 reserved for the Call of Duty League and the Halo television show, along with $600,000 for IGN, and $500,000 for Twitch.
The documents highlight a focus on presenting "Army values and opportunities" in Gen Z through the use of Call of Duty, a series which has been accused of portraying a pro-war agenda in recent years. Another goal was to grow favorability among women, and black and Hispanic people in surveys, through the use of targeted media campaigns through Twitch streamers and media outlets.
"Army Marketing's goal for sponsorship is similar to all our advertising purchases which is to reach a specific market in support of Army recruiting", an Army spokesperson told Motherboard. "In Army marketing, we must meet the youth where they are and that is online."
How Is Games Media Implicated In The U.S. Army Documents?
Back during the IGN Summer Game Fest in June, there were frequent advertisements for the U.S. armed forces, which many viewers were justifiably critical of. The documents reveal that these were part of the Army's planned $600,000 advertising campaign, which ran from April 1 to November 30.
It doesn't stop at the biggest game media site in the world either, as the now dead G4 revival was implicated too with a planned $500,000 campaign. Kotaku reported that there was a lot of internal discontent among G4 staff due to the sponsorship, with a former staffer stating about the leadership, "their response to pushback was that they understood that the G4 employees were largely liberal, but they didn't want to alienate the right-wing audience members in any way".
How much of these leaked U.S. Army marketing plans went forward is unknown, but it highlights a worrying agenda of focusing recruitment toward young, vulnerable, and minority groups.