‘Years of writing about public relations and propaganda has probably made me a bit jaded, but I was amazed nevertheless when I visited America’s Army [www.americasarmy.com], an online video game website sponsored by the US Department of Defense,’ writes Sheldon Rampton for PR Watch. He was attending the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, where gamers line up to practise shooting at people, turning war into entertainment.
‘America’s Army offers a range of games that kids can download or play online. Although the games are violent, with plenty of opportunities to shoot and blow things up, they avoid graphic images of death or other ugliness of war, offering instead a sanitized, Tom Clancy version of fantasy combat.
In recent testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, US Undersecretary for Defense David Chu – in charge of personnel recruitment for the military – admitted that young people aren’t so enthusiastic about joining up. But America’s Army must march on. Writes Rampton: ‘Military officials have also developed an elaborate PR strategy for outreach to schools. Specific advice [to recruiters] includes the following – “Attend athletic events at the HS (High School). Make sure you wear your uniform… Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month… Get involved with the local Boy Scouts… Many scouts are HS students and potential enlistees or student influencers.’