After failing to meet its fiscal year target for new recruits, the US Army is pulling together a team of soldier video gamers in an attempt to appeal to younger Americans. Both active duty troops and reservists are being called to compete in eSports tournaments to boost recruitment and further the Army’s “brand.”
The “All-Army team” will be comprised solely of soldiers who still have time left in the Army, according to a report by PC Gamer. The hope is that the eSports team will make the Army seem more relatable to young Americans, essentially serving as a marketing effort.
Those interested in joining the team will have to compete for a spot, as the service intends to hold tryouts for a range of games, according to Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux.
The team’s first competition, a Tekken tournament, is also already on the schedule for December 8.
Members of the team will technically be a part of the US Army’s Marketing and Engagement Team, which is based out of Fort Knox, Kentucky. Their duties will include traveling to a range of events, and the Army will foot the bill for any competition fees or other requirements.
“They will be in a support role to help young people see soldiers in a different light and understand the many different roles people can have in the Army (and) help the Army address the growing disconnect with society,” said Kelli Bland, an Army Recruiting Command spokeswoman.
US Army eSports already has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, and representatives participated in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit last Friday to shine some light on the program.
The Army is fighting against low unemployment and a shrinking pool of eligible and interested 17- to 24-year-old potential recruits. Additionally, many young people are resistant to classic recruitment communication methods, like phone calls.
This isn’t the Army’s first attempt at using video games to connect with potential recruits. Over 15 years ago, “America’s Army,” a first-person shooter video game that served as a recruitment effort,” was launched as part of an effort to connect with younger Americans.
It ultimately became a franchise.