Shooting for Fun and Profit,
The Salute (Fall, 2009)
Final trouncing of The Salute: In an economy that is tanking, young people are as vulnerable as fish in a barrel in places like the Army Experience Center (AEC):
"Young men and women pour daily into a storefront in Philadelphia's Franklin Mills Mall. Once inside, they battle enemy forces from helicoptor and Humvee simulators, play a variety of X-box and PC games and work together to accomplish mission simulations and team exercises in a tactical operations center. Is this some high-end video arcade? No.
"This is the Army Experience Center [AEC], where potential recruits or anyone interested in the life of a Soldier can come to play and learn. ..."
The image of pulling drunks out of bars in Shanghai flashes through Ranger's experienced mind. Ranger, like his Army fellows, has shared the Army Experience and it is more than shooting fun guns off of simulators.
What also gives us the heebie-jeebies is the fact that this scenario is a little too close for comfort. I mean, aren't we trying to discourage people from opening fire in malls? It just seems at the very minimum, bad taste.
The military come-on of mall shooting mock-ups has been around for awhile, but usually in discreet chair simulators or through free online game downloads, like America's Army. GamePolitics.com reports today that in testimony before Congress, the Army reported that game was a more effective recruitment tool than “any other method of contact.”
The picture tells all you need to know about today's Army. Are we generating a force that shoots people from vehicles? Is this what The Salute calls "defending friendly countries"?
Further, a Washington Examiner story (Video Game Veterans and the New American Politics) quotes an Air Force Colonel, Commander of a Predator drone squadron, as stating that though the younger, videogame generation were naturals at piloting the remote-controlled aircraft, he thought that the same group suffered when attempting to consider the consequences of their actions:
The video game generation is worse at distorting the reality of it [war] from the virtual nature. They don't have that sense of what really going on. It [videogames] teaches you how to compartmentalize it.
The Salute goes on to laud the fun and games as being superior to the dour routine of "Army recruiters spending long hours cold-calling or going door-to-door to find the next generation of Soldiers".
"Now they have a hi-tech, multimedia environment where they can foster an experience of the Army, as opposed to just talking about it."
"In an Army that has always prided itself as a learning institution, the AEC is just another example of education, where people can learn about the Army in a relaxed environment (this is truth in advertising?) . . . [the] entertainment draws people in, but they leave with a deeper understanding of their Army and a greater openness to serve."
Do we really think it's cool to recruit kids in a play center? Well, maybe since we just found out that Baby Einstein doesn't work (Wait, Baby Einstein Won't Make My Kid a Genius?) . . .