Image: US Army eSports/Facebook
The United States Army has recently established a new team that is more selective than the vaunted Rangers and no, it’s not a team of super soldiers. It is a team of professional video game players.
We are all familiar with normal sports such as hockey, baseball, and football. But since 1972, the world of competitive video gaming, or eSports, has become immensely popular. In 2018, 16 soldiers from the Army Reserves and Regular Army were selected from more than 6,500 applicants to join the elite group. Interest is so high, that the Army has now opened up recruitment to the National Guard.
The team is based out of Fort Knox, KY and their role is to represent the Army at regional or national tournaments, or at other gaming exhibitions and conventions. Amateur gamers around the world can currently play games such as Fortnight and Call of Duty together through online gaming. But eSports is where the pros play. Recent eSports tournaments have drawn thousands of viewers and the Army has taken notice.
It’s important to note that members of the Army’s eSports outreach teams are not recruiters. They are technically in support roles to help young people see Soldiers in a different light and understand the many different roles people can have in the Army. Through gaming, their aim is to create awareness about the Army and the opportunities it provides.
The Fortnite Pro-Am event at E3 2018 – Wikipedia
“The esports program is an Army Recruiting Command outreach effort designed to connect the Army and American population through a shared passion for gaming,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones in a 2019 interview with Army.mil. Jones is a noncommissioned officer in charge of the program.
During his senior year at Woodlawn High School in 2003, Christopher Jones enlisted in the Army. Over the years, he never lost his love of gaming and sixteen years later, he’s still serving but eSports has become his MOS.
Soldiers who are identified as the most competitive in select gaming titles are reassigned to Fort Knox for a three-year rotation with the team. “While at Knox, competitors will spend most of their time practicing with their teammates to maintain their competitive edge,” Jones added.
It’s not all fun and games though, “Soldiers participating in the program must be in good standing with the Army by maintaining their physical fitness standards, along with their career field-specific certifications,” Jones said.
Join us this week on The Scuttlebutt as we question the effects of violent video games, their questionable themes, and debate the realism of the militaristic first-person shooters with our own veteran gamer, James Martin.