Print By Mike Glenn – The Washington Times – Sunday, November 3, 2019 You’re a soldier working your way carefully through a bizarre, colorful environment filled with ramps and sudden drop-offs. Your weapon is at the ready. Enemy troops are everywhere. As one “hostile” moves into your view, you take aim and fire. Without warning,…
Welcome to combat in the Gamer Age.
Uncle Sam wants you — to play Splitgate. If not Splitgate, then Fortnite or another role-playing game. The Pentagon is even willing to pay you to do it.
Electronic sports — better known as esports — is a form of competition that uses elaborate multiplayer video games. Analysts predict the global audience for esports will grow to more than 450 million by the end of the year and bring in more than $1 billion in revenue.
The Army wants to tap into that market of potential recruits and is embracing esports in a big way. Last year marked the official rollout of the official Army esports team. About 6,500 active and reserve soldiers tried out, and about 16 made the final cut.
“We are a competitive gaming team, and we’re in direct support of the recruiting effort,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Army esports squad.
The team members are all soldiers and come from a variety of military fields — including at least one who is a Special Forces member. But joining the Army’s esports team is like a homecoming because all were gamers before they ever put on a uniform, Sgt. Jones said.
“I’ve been an avid World of Warcraft player for over 15 years — before I got into the Army. And I’ve been playing since I’ve been in the Army,” he said. “We’re telling the story behind the uniform. We’re gamers just like everyone else. We just have a different chosen profession.”
This year, the Army took delivery of an elaborate trailer from an 18-wheeler filled with high-tech immersive gaming consoles to give potential recruits an idea of what could be in their future if they join. The trailer was recently featured at the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.
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