Everybody seems to be jumping on the eSports hype train these days. Tech companies, traditional sports teams, and now apparently even the US Army. According to Stars and Stripes, an independent news outlet sanctioned by the Department of Defense, the US Army is now looking at video games as a potential recruiting tool. To that end, the Army is putting together eSports teams to compete against other gamers in various tournaments. The teams accept not only active army personnel and reserves but also civilians and veterans. In short, pretty much anybody can apply.
PC, PS4, Xbox One – Everyone is Welcomed to Join
If you’re thinking about joining the US Army’s future eSports teams, you’ll need to start by completing an online form. Based on said form, it seems like the army is interested in creating teams for most of the popular eSports right now. Among the listed games you’ll find tiles like Fortnite, League of Legends, PUBG, Overwatch, and of course, Call of Duty. The army is apparently also interested in creating teams for Tekken, FIFA, Madden, and NBA 2K.
Call of Duty is a series of military shooters so its presence on that list makes perfect sense. The others? Maybe not so much, but there is a good reason why they are there. The US Army isn’t planning to recruit people just so they can play games together, the end goal is to recruit new soldiers. Creating these teams allows the army to reach a lot of people that might otherwise not be interested in enlisting. But by offering them the chance to be part of a legitimate eSports team and participate in tournaments it might change their minds.
According to the Stars and Stripes article, the US Army failed to reach its recruiting goal in 2018, which hasn’t happened since 2005. Hence, the rather unusual new recruiting techniques. The army currently has around 476,000 active soldiers but wants to increase that number to around half a million by 2024. In addition to eSports, the army is also trying to put together a “functional fitness” team in an attempt to attract new recruits.
The US Army is no Stranger to Video Games
Recruiting new soldiers via video games may seem a bit strange but this isn’t the US Army’s first attempt at doing precisely that. The army hosted tournaments before, including a Street Fighter 5 tournament earlier this year, and even launched its own military FPS back in 2002. The game in question goes by the name America’s Army and is still available on Steam as a free-to-play multiplayer shooter. The next foray into eSports will take place on December 8th when the US Army will be hosting a Tekken 7 tournament. The winner of the tournament will then represent the army at Pax South, which takes place in early 2019.