Gamers have developed a distinct set of skills, and now the military is interested.
It's no surprise that we live in a digital age. Almost everything we do involves technology in some way, and communication is no exception. Everything from job applications to college courses can be done online nowadays, and a lot of friendships and business relations occur online. It’s no surprise that during this era of technological advances and enhanced communication, that participation in esports has also soared. Games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and League of Legends are household names in the gaming scene. Companies are starting to take notice of the general public's constant envelopment in technology-- in both day-to-day life and leisure-- and they are creating advertising to effectively target the newest generation of consumers.
US Army enters Gaming
The Army is no exception to this rule-- and they are using the rise of both esports and technology to effectively recruit new soldiers. The United States Army opened its new Army Enterprise Marketing Office in Chicago, Illinois with a new strategy for recruitment in mind-- esports. Utilizing the Call of Duty franchise, the army is beginning to not only emphasize brute strength, but dexterity, timing, and quick reflexes. Video games, especially real-time strategy titles or first-person shooters rely on the player's intuition, combined with their response times to stimuli. For this reason, the Army has taken notice of video games, as they are similar to the training simulations that actual soldiers use. This, combined with recent studies showing the ineffectiveness of cold calling or mailing potential soldiers, has caused the United States Army to create the video game-influenced "What's Your Warrior?" campaign in 2019, which led to a modern rebranding of the GoArmy webpage and the launch of the very first esports team in the Army.
Active duty and reserve troops alike were encouraged to apply for this brand new esports team, U.S. Army Esports, which was founded in November of 2018 and formally began competing in summer of 2019. This esports team plays everything from Fortnite to Call of Duty, and even Overwatch. U.S. Army Esports even makes appearances at gaming conventions, such as PAX East, and they compete in tournaments and set up a booth in the convention hall. At this booth, the gaming public can meet with recruitment officers, talk to team members, and even face off soldiers in popular esports titles. This active participation in the gaming community, combined with the restructured GoArmy marketing campaign, has produced significant results for the Army. GoArmy.com reports a 72% increase in traffic and Q1 of 2020 has seen an improvement of 2,300 recruits, in comparison to Q1 of 2019. With the success of not only their esports team but their recruitment as well, the United States Army has set a lofty recruitment goal of half a million active-duty troops by the end of the decade - December 31, 2020.
U.S Army has an eye on the esports skillset
It makes sense that the Army would see such success by utilizing esports titles, such as the Call of Duty franchise, as video games are highly-immersive tools for putting a person directly in the centre of the action. First-person shooters like Call of Duty are extremely effective at throwing players in the midst of conflict and putting their quick reflexive actions to the test. A popular move in the Call of Duty games, quick scoping, demonstrates just that, as it relies on the player's knowledge of their weapon's range and power to perform. To pull off this move, the player either chooses to utilize the scope of the weapon for a brief second or not at all. A successful quick scope shot will leave the player's adversary unable to react or escape, as the move takes place in a matter of seconds. Moves like this helped popularize Call of Duty in the competitive scene, as players were excited to see who the quickest shot was. Knowledge of terrain in the Call of Duty games is emphasized just as much as quick reflexes are, as players must know how to navigate maps so they can get the edge on their opponents. Knowing the layout of the in-game map can help the player strategize an effective plan for victory. Again, all of this happens very quickly, as the player has to outmanoeuvre and think ahead of their opponents.
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With all of these in-game skills in mind, it is no surprise that the U.S. Army's esports division has gravitated toward titles like Call of Duty in its recent marketing. These games have effectively demonstrated the differing skillsets required for success in the Army to the general public. America and the United Kingdom's armed forces both have delved into the world of esports for their current marketing campaigns-- and it's producing results. Over 68,000 people were recruited by the United States Army in 2019 and that number is expected to grow this year, after the U.S. Army Esports team began competing in summer of 2019. The world itself is becoming more familiar with military-inspired games, as esports enter the mainstream media. This strong public presence has made people more comfortable with the strategies and methods involved in the gameplay, which might even lead to them considering to join the Army on their own.
Between the U.S. Army Esports team and the complete overhaul of the Army's marketing, recruitment is expected to soar in the coming months. Games like Call of Duty and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is to thank for informing the general public of the varying skillsets that the Army requires. No longer are people encouraged to focus solely on brute strength when joining the military, esports has proven that strategy-making, reflexes, dexterity, and composure are required to be a successful soldier. Aside from the Army, other military programs, such as the ROTC, Navy, and Air Force, are turning to esports to encourage people to join their ranks. With the U.S. Army's successful advertising campaigns and endorsement of the esports scene, more people are expected to join the Army than ever before.
Images courtesy of Activision