The United States Army unveiled its new esports team last weekend at Seattle’s PAX West Gaming Convention.
After two years in which the Army failed to meet its recruiting goals, the military has decided to use the allure of gaming and esports to attract potential recruits.
16-player US Army roster unveiled
First off, the news that the Army was interested in esports broke last November. In addition to starting an esports team, the Army also increased its presence and visibility on social media, directly appealing to the millennial demographic.
Major General Frank Muth, the commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, stated:
“The U.S. Army has a passion for all things esports.”
The @USArmyesports Team has entered the Arena! #Soldiers from the team will be at #PAXwest all weekend competing and discussing opportunities available in the @USArmy. #esports #USAREC #Seattle pic.twitter.com/HGTtKnkL06
— U.S. Army Recruiting (@usarec) August 31, 2019
“There are so many folks that don’t know about the Army and what the Army does and what the Army can offer, so this is another venue to start the discussion.”
According to Muth, the skills learned playing esports and video games translate particularly well into a career in the military.
“Teamwork, communication, spatial understanding, multiple screens, quick decision-making, communications,” he said. “Those are all things we use in the Army every day.”
The approach also seems to be working. The Army is set to pick up around 1,500 new leads from their participation in PAX West last weekend. At a traditional recruitment event, the Army would expect to pick up around 350, based on current figures.
The brainchild of one sergeant
Sgt. 1st Christopher Jones originated this esports-based recruitment tactic. Jones is a keen gamer himself and realized the Army was failing to connect with a particular generation and that many within the gaming community had stereotypical and often inaccurate views on life in the Army.
“We want them to take away [that] we’re just like everyone else,” Jones stated, adding, “we just have a different profession; we have the same shared passion.”
In what titles will the U.S. Army Esports team compete?
The U.S. Army has announced that its 16-person roster, which comprises of both active duty and reserve personnel, will compete in a number of different esports games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Call of Duty and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive headlined the list. It also included Fortnite, League of Legends, PUBG and Overwatch.
The team will operate out of Fort Knox. However, it is not yet known which esports tournaments the different teams will enter.
It is going to be interesting to see whether the specialist training of the Army esports team will influence their performance in CS:GO and Call of Duty.
Put it this way—would you bet on them to be one of the top teams in the next few years?
Images courtesy of US Army Esports