When players walk into Army sponsored tournaments, the government knows more about them then they may suppose. The game records players’ data and statistics in a massive database called Andromeda, which records every move a player makes and links the information to their screen name. With this information tracking system, gameplay serves as a military aptitude tester, tracking overall kills, kills per hour, a player’s virtual career path, and other statistics. According to Colonel Wardynski, players who play for a long time and do extremely well may “just get an e-mail seeing if [they’d] like any additional information on the Army.” The “America’s Army” web site, however, is quick to point out that the Army respects players’ privacy. The Army claims that player information is not linked to a person’s real world identity unless that person volunteers their identity to a recruiter. But it is not clear that recruiters have to give any sort of discloser that a voluntary relinquishing of one’s name is also an invitation to a player’s statistical information. Answering seemingly innocent questions from recruiters in “America’s Army” chat rooms or at state fairs about one’s screen name may divulge personal information without intending to.
July 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm
They made a movie about this, “The Last Star Fighter”.
July 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm
America’s Army has been out for awhile now, as have all First Person Shooters. I remember playing Wolfenstein 3D. It was okay to play it because I was killing Nazis. And then there was Doom, then Duke Nukem 3D, which had strippers who flashed you their betassled breasts when you offered them money.
And that only scratches the surface.
Just because America’s Army comes directly from the military doesn’t mean that all the other war games don’t originate with the same intentions.
Virtually all games train you for war in some way; even Monopoly, if you think about it.
Go to a video-game store; it’s all about playing the warrior.
Now, some might argue that they play new-age, peace-loving hippie games that aren’t like that at all. But even those can be co-opted by the military because they are all about building communal cohesion between individuals.
July 29, 2008 at 6:05 pm
Snorky – I’ve been interested in this stuff for a while, ever since reading Disinfo’s classic dossier on the subject: http://www.disinfo.com/archive/pages/dossier/id390/pg1/index.html
The 1980 game BattleZone for the Atari was originally developed for the Army and was then commercially released, and the military and game development worlds have been in bed ever since.
My first post about America’s Army came years ago: http://www.technoccult.com/archives/2002/06/29/us-government-releasing-war-video-game/ but what I found interesting in this article is the Army’s datamining activities.
July 30, 2008 at 2:43 pm
I think this is a good thing — seriously. This will be a hugely successful social engineering platform, and then us weirdos will get to subvert that platform, since the military was arrogant enough to build it on our turf.