Antiwar group targets Ubisoft, America's Army

Group claims publisher and US military are recruiting children in violation of international law.

The America's Army games have served as a recruiting tool for the US Army since the line debuted in 2002 with a free-to-download first-person shooter. While the Army has been clear that the games are targeted at young Americans to increase their interest in military service, an antiwar group this week is saying those potential recruits were too young.

The group Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW) is taking to task the Army and its sometimes-partner in the America's Army series, Ubisoft, for what it calls the recruiting of children in violation of international law. DASW claims the Army is specifically targeting boys as young as 13 with the game, which is rated T for Teen. The United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict specifically forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18.

The group said in a statement that it met with Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc, who informed them that the publisher was through making America's Army games. An Ubisoft representative did not return GameSpot's request for confirmation on that point.

DASW also wants a warning label attached to the game. The suggested label would read, "Warning: this video game has been developed by the United States Army to recruit children under the age of 17 in violation of the U.N. Optional Protocol and international law. Combat service has been known to cause death, irreparable injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and lifelong feelings of overwhelming guilt."

The group has planned an antiwar rally for today in San Francisco's South Park--a block from Ubisoft's offices--to call attention to its grievances with the games.

Written By

Want the latest news about America's Army?

America's Army

America's Army

Discussion

374 comments
GodzillaRules
GodzillaRules

I hate morons like these. The day they actually know how the U.S Army works, what's actually in the game, and what the people who play the game actually do afterwards, that'll be the day I take them seriously. These "anti-war" hippies make me sick.

faithless_8ball
faithless_8ball

The suggested label is too long to fit the box, so you can shave it up your azz. bend over and let play the game. what's wrong wit ya?

LUGIAHUA
LUGIAHUA

You are not a military service man or woman unless you signed up and took oath in front of Star-Spangled Banner

ComradeKomarov
ComradeKomarov

I think the best part about what the anti-war group wants is the warning label - do they really think anyone is going to append to one of their products not only something so frightening, but so utterly ridiculous. "...known to cause death, irreparable injuries, [PTSD] and lifelong feelings of overwhelming guilt." That's like asking a food chain to put "may make you explode from being too fat, may make you depressed about being fat, may make other kids taunt you for being fat". Yeah, it's possible, no matter how improbable, but it's just not something you put on a box. People know damn well what combat service does, no matter how glorified it is. If they can outweigh the dangers, that's their own decision. Besides, most people who play AA to a level where it would be "recruitment" tend to be those who would go into military service anyways. What a lawsuit-oriented world this is.

Latteralus
Latteralus

I completely agree with Grantsplace2004 on his last post. I just joined the United States Army about 2 months ago and I'm loving every second of it. People fail to realize that the Army doesn't just go around fighting Wars. We have desk jobs too, we have just about any job the Civilian world has. I played AA before I joined the Army but it wasn't even close to the reason I joined. I joined because I wanted to serve my country and get a good education. The AA website shows just about what Military service looks like. They give you options to turn off the blood effects and all that but really it should be (*)'s decision to play the game. That's like looking at Walmart. Do they advertise? Do they make every effort possible to get you to think of Walmart as your personal shopping choice? " a_tiger101 Posted Aug 19, 2008 6:04 pm PT I wonder how many boys got killed by this game in real life wars after joining the US army" Let me tell you, MEPS which is the Military Processing Center is where you Enlist to join. Now before you can even join they make you understand every aspect and they read you all your paperwork and explain every detail of your enlistment to you. Then you have to sign everything stating that you have read it. Then the person who was reading it to you has to sign it as well stating that she/he read you it. Now I went in at 4AM, got out at 6PM. In that time they explained everything to me. If these "boys" want to join they have this same process. You don't just go in and 10 minutes later you walk out being a Soldier. I'm sorry but your misinformed. - PFC Barnett (*) = Whomever might be looking into playing

Lonelynight
Lonelynight

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

a_tiger101
a_tiger101

I wonder how many boys got killed by this game in real life wars after joining the US army

Lord__Darkstorn
Lord__Darkstorn

I think that America's Army should be marketed as a recruiting tool instead of a game. We all know that it conditions us to want to "fight them terrorists" yet does little in the way of fun (it is a fact that AA sucks). The Army is at fault here for using a video game as a direct army recruitment tool without a warning. So letthem put on a warning, no big deal.

Fancelot
Fancelot

Russia's citizens aren't protesting, because everyone who doesnt watch "free media lol lol" news knows that Georgia attacked Russian citizens first with the backing of US special forces, and US funded mercenary groups. BTW I hate the UN and their attempts to tramp of America's sovereignty, however our aggressive interventionist policies that are only for short term gains and have no regard for long term consequences is retarded and BS. We the ones who trained and armed the Taliban and Bin Ladin. Boy were we wrong on this one. We're the ones who put Saddam Hussain in power as an ally in the Middle East. Hell when he massacred the kurds, it was with weapons we supplied him with. Look at how it turned out... we're f@cking geniuses We're the ones who assassinated Iran's first democratically elected president and installed a dictator only to have them get pissed (no sh!t) and helped the Shah to get into power. "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

Fancelot
Fancelot

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Fancelot
Fancelot

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

morgan_1979
morgan_1979

Why it always have to be about WAR!?

monroethanes
monroethanes

Some people really have too much free time (including me, but I don't waste others' by organizing protests). I am always in awe of the naked and ugly hubris of most protesters. Groups like DASW assumes you are too stupid to know what you're doing, so these uber-educated activists have to step in and run your life. And the Left says it stands for freedom? For tollerance? I'm pro-choice, you should be able to choose which games you or your children play and also choose if they want to enlist. Juxtapose the American Left's view of the military with your average Russian, especially during this Georgia thing. You don't see Russian Leftist groups protesting the Georgia conflict nor the Russian military. It is amazing that the affluence of the USA has produced so many ingrates and that they feel so morally superior they can judge what's best for everyone else. A few more inconsistencies with the DASW's argument - If a father promotes the military to his kids, does this count? Does it matter if the father is in active, reserve, contract, or civilian status? Why do military recruiters go to high schools? If the USA is in violation of UN law, so what? What is the enforcement arm of international law? Are the hordes of the World Court in the Hague going to invade San Fransico and sack Ubisoft? (I have no doubt that the San Fransisco citizens would welcome them as liberators, those World Citizens love international bodies and reject nationalism as evil) San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom I believe, wanted to disband the military and leave all defense duties to cops and firemen, why doesn't he act on his convictions and kick Ubisoft out of San Fransisco? (Don't tell me he can't, if LA can ban fast food restaurants then they can also ban violent video game developers)

Mp5slipknot
Mp5slipknot

And the game is how old now? Aren't they a little late in protesting this? I mean I'm not really for or against the war but either way you look at it, this is just plain silly.

don31049
don31049

Sinse when do we Americans fall under international LAW,we are a soverign nation wit a constution,im a vietnam vet,59 yrs old and not screwied up like they said ,besides its obevious they never played this game ,because it works pretty much like the military,most of the time it sucks,,

gpvs
gpvs

Rabadabdab they talk a lot of crab. 1) If so then all war like games, movies, clothing etc should be banned, as all of these can be seen as influencing the youth. 2) Their is no recruitment unless a signed recruitment form has been completed, and then yes they must be 18+ 3) Get a life, rather fight a worthier cause like obesity

LordLonewolf777
LordLonewolf777

I'm Sorry, I just had to laugh out loud when I read this... DASW should really go protest their OWN anti war propaganda in irac or any place that plays host to terrorists. This article is really, REALLY funny...

Cheesefreak33
Cheesefreak33

Wow. Didn't the U.S. Military somehow fund every war we've been in since its existence? Does history count as a recruitment tool too? I mean... we do kick some serious tail, my history book says so. Obviously, then, I want to join the military! And if the Military really did fund those wars, it's obvious spending all that money was to kick tail, and in turn creating a valuable device of propganda. That means there should also be similar warning labels on all History textbooks, Encyclopedias, and anything else that contains information on our country's military history, because kids under the age of 17 can read them, and then they'll want to go to war. I'm just scared to think that if someone from the DASW stopped by to read this comment, they might actually think it's a good idea...

Grantsplace2004
Grantsplace2004

Just to clarify, I'm not supporting the idea of using a video game as a propaganda tool, I think its wrong and it would be a serious problem if more people actually played such a crappy game. However the suggested warning label is hilarious, "Combat service has been known to cause death, irreparable injuries, PTS Disorder, and lifelong feelings of overwhelming guilt", thanks for the heads up DASW, we didn't know that our bodies had a weakness to bullets and people might feel bad about killing someone.

Grantsplace2004
Grantsplace2004

This group obviously doesn't understand what recruiting is, since these kids are not being asked directly to join the army nor is the army accepting underage recruits. If anything, these games can be considered entertaining propaganda devices that children like to play, which is hardly illegal since it falls under freedom of speech/ expression. Whether or not you think propaganda is bad or good it is protecting by the first ammendment, regardless who it comes from (even the government). Sorry for the semi rant.

danleeah
danleeah

Does this antiwar group know how much the AA games suck?

sdauz
sdauz

there right, whether r not kids r stupid enough to join the army today, its still creepy and wrong..........go play BF bad company lol

JBDragon
JBDragon

What. If you play that game your Recruited into the Army? Ouch, I don't want to move to Canada!!! Since when has the Army Recruited anyone under 18 playing this game? Name 1 single person. Yep San Francisco, the LOONY bin of California, and maybe the biggest in the country on so many things it's just crazy. I guess if your a Nut Job, that's the place to move to. I live less then a hour away and I even stay away as much as possible. I'm unlucky if it's once a year. I wonder about these Anti-War nut jobs. What would the US look like without the Revolutionary War, or the Civil War? What if no one fought the Nazi's? Go and let all the other Nut job Mass Murders keep on doing what they do because we don't want to fight and be in a War. I guess it's Kill or Be killed and all these Anti-War people would be the first ones dead which would be a good thing. Otherwise you might as well roll over and die.

prioritymail
prioritymail

Its not recruiting if there is no signing up for military service. In yo face, antiwar groups!

npramsey
npramsey

You've got to be friggin' kidding me. They're trying to say its illegal to portray the military in a positive light? Are they trying to say that people can't think about careers until the age of 18? What about the ROTC programs in high schools? A person doesn't become a "recruit" in the military until they join. Playing a video game about the military is a LONG way off from actually joining. Kids can, and SHOULD think about their careers before they grow up. They don't make the commitment until they become adults. International law does not make it illegal for a minor to think, or hear both sides of the issue. We are supposed to be protecting them from signing up too young, not from thinking about their futures.

thepyrethatburn
thepyrethatburn

Sophospeare: But that's not the point of the article, if these games do in some direct or indirect way influence a child to join the military, that is illegal under international law because the game is sponsored by the American military. Adults 18 or over should be making decisions to join the military and that is the age recruiters should start their influences, no sooner. One could say the same thing of TV commericials and print ads. In fact, most modern war games make combat seem like a glorious thing. How would you define "Indirect"? However, given that international law has not been enforced in places such as South America where soldiers can be as young as 8, I'm inclined not to care. When these "international bodies" start targeting the worst offenders, then I'll start caring a little more. Vain_Apocalypse But doesn't AA's status as a recruitment tool make it inappropriate for teens? If the ESRB can take into account social norms in determining what words and level of sexual content are appropriate for teens, why can't they also take into account international laws? Social norms? International laws? What says the ESRB can take one into account and not the other? The problem here is that, if this is considered for one, it would have to be considered for all. Given that games like Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon tout the message of "Bad-ass military special forces", they would also fall under this dragnet. In fact, you could argue that those games are more effective recruiting tools because, unlike AA, they glorify in-game characters as "military killing machines". Also, where do you draw the line? International law has laws governing human genetics testing. No Bioshock for you. It is illegal in Europe to have games depicting Nazis. No Wolfenstein for you. I don't know about you but, when faced with these situations, I tend to swerve towards more freedom rather than less. LordeIX: They are also used for conditioning certain sections of the population into believing certain groups of people are the enemy. Once again, see all modern war games. Also, see WWII games. However, one of the major issues here is that you are essentially admitting that Jack Thompson was correct. If games are able to condition that effectively, then we must accept that video game violence also conditions people to be more violent. This is not an issue that you can cherry pick. Either we accept that games are able to be an overriding influence or we accept that games, while they can be influental, are not able to override the influences from real life. If we do accept that games are such an overriding influence that they can condition people to hate certain groups, then we must also accept that they condition people to view violence as a desired method of resolving problems. If that's the case, then we need to revisit the ESRB's guidelines. Remember, once a legal precedent is set, it will be used by others in ways that you will not like.

LordelX
LordelX

Nope. Sorry guys...they aren't spot on correct, but there is a problem here that needs to be debated and investigated. Targeting Ubisoft is a little useless, but military games ARE a major recruiting tool for young people, whether intentional on the developer's part or not. They are also used for conditioning certain sections of the population into believing certain groups of people are the enemy. While military games will always have a place in gaming and have a variety of positive uses, this is a debate that needs to take place.

drumbreak1
drumbreak1

theyre's so many nut job groups out these days i swear they just pick a stupid cause to go for in the first place and just piss people off,

MaxGames
MaxGames

Commies trying to ruin something else...

Masterdj1992
Masterdj1992

Cryostorm nice point! Not actual recruiting - just "inspiring" them to join the army when they are older. No underage teens are ever recruited. @Vain Apocalypse, the point I am trying to make is to stop firing insults at people and keep your posts related to the article and stop making a spectacle of others and a fool of yourself. Posting again = act I will not regret ;-D

brittoss
brittoss

"Combat service has been known to cause death, irreparable injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and lifelong feelings of overwhelming guilt." So does walking in on your parents in the middle of doing it, but I don't see anyone fighting against that!! ;)

Cryostorm1313
Cryostorm1313

While I belive this game is marketed to kids as young as 13, the UN law only applies to the actual recruitment of children. Find me a recruiter that sent a 15 year old to basic training and then you'll have a point.

Vain_Apocalypse
Vain_Apocalypse

@Masterdj1992 What act might that be? Also What does WWII and Nazi Germany have to do with this? Oh, that's right, nothing.

GhostStalkerX1
GhostStalkerX1

LOL, Playing Star Wars Games makes me want to be a jedi. What joo gona do about that hippies!!!!

MaxGames
MaxGames

KLONE360 hit the nail on the head...couldn't day it better myself

Masterdj1992
Masterdj1992

@ Vain_Apocalypse 1.Stop attacking people with your @'s 2.U.S.A. = Not under direct U.N. jurisdiction....um...duh? 3.If you can't use wikipedia as a credible source in high school/college, why use it here? 4.If this game was "aimed for children" it would not be T. 5.ESRB does not judge by means of whether they are told that the ORIGINAL idea was to get people INTERESTED in the army, but the actual content of the game, and the content of the game does not break international law. Oh and let me guess about your theory on WWII : Germans are over-friendly people who happened to find themselves in other peoples countries. I swear, If you put a @Masterdj1992 I am going to commit an act I will probably not regret.....

Masterdj1992
Masterdj1992

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

CVM_123
CVM_123

doesnt sounds that good tho.....

Vain_Apocalypse
Vain_Apocalypse

@ RollMaster The ESRB is solely responsible for rating what age a game is appropriate for. But doesn't AA's status as a recruitment tool make it inappropriate for teens? If the ESRB can take into account social norms in determining what words and level of sexual content are appropriate for teens, why can't they also take into account international laws? Social norms? International laws? What says the ESRB can take one into account and not the other? Also, has anyone noticed that anyone who cites the army as being at fault for anything, or expresses any anti-war sentiment immediately gets a thumbs down here? Seriously, how bias can you get?

RollMaster
RollMaster

The ESRB is solely responsible for rating what age America's Army is appropriate for. It is not their responsibility to determine if the game is a violation of the U.N. Operational Protocol. Therefore, the ESRB is not accountable in any way. Nor is Ubisoft, although they may have developed the game. If there is anyone at fault here, it could only be the U.S. Army, as they seek to use America's Army as a recruitment tool.

DLazarek
DLazarek

Isn't the game a free download? So where the heck will you put the warning label? I sure hope the judge throws a hefty frivolous lawsuit fine against these nutcases.

Vain_Apocalypse
Vain_Apocalypse

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

KLONE360
KLONE360

Darn hippees get a life,take a shower,then get a haircut, more than likely these are the same ppl that say mooch off wellfair anyway and if AA targets youth so much why are some politicians trying to reinstate the draft due to lack of soldiers, because what they r saying is that u play the game and boom ur a US soldier, some ppl truly are retarded piles of wellfair government sukin trash mongers

Vain_Apocalypse
Vain_Apocalypse

@ XXMadManVII You've got a damn good point there. Frankly, I don't think Ubi is to blame at all. The ESRB and the army are the ones who should be held accountable for this offense.

XXMadManVII
XXMadManVII

I just had a thought: The ESRB sets the ratings for a game, right?. So, if you take that into consideration, isn't their fault that AA targets youth? They could have recognized the purpose of the game and rated it mature. But they didn't. As for Ubi, they just followed the guidelines that their client (the Army in this case) set. Now, I am not a naive person so I can guess that the Army knew the guidelines for teen rated game and had Ubi make a teen game. But like i said earlier, the ESRB should have done a better job rating the game in the first place. If all that they look at is blood and swear content and not the message of the game then that's on them. Maybe the Army paid the ESRB off in a clandestine meeting where JFK and Elvis brokered the deal and the aliens from area 51 delivered the cash in a super-stealth flying saucer to a secrete bunker under the Washington Monument.

docvfr
docvfr

PcMacro, Brainwashed , no. Informed and educated, yes. I know others would have you think otherwise,but, patriotism is good. It 's what keeps a country and people united. The American military has been an overwhelming force for good for some time now. They have had certain people within there ranks that have done bad things, but they are subsequently prosecuted and imprisoned. Never disparage those who keep you safe and free. They matter and America's position as the only world power matters. If this truly is in violation of some international convention of which the US is bound, then it should be rated M or AO, otherwise they should allow it to be distributed without any label or interference.

Opera-User
Opera-User

Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW) = Jack Thompson Video Games make kids want to join the army = GTA makes people commit crimes same-thing happens over and over.

snakes3425
snakes3425

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

sophospeare
sophospeare

Having never played the games, take this with a grain of salt. I agree that what the men and women of the Armed Forces do is very brave and each and every one of them do deserve a handshake, pat on the back and any help we can give them. But that's not the point of the article, if these games do in some direct or indirect way influence a child to join the military, that is illegal under international law because the game is sponsored by the American military. Adults 18 or over should be making decisions to join the military and that is the age recruiters should start their influences, no sooner. Now I think this action and their wording of the warning label is extreme, as is often the case with extremist groups, they have a point and under another beautiful thing about our country, the first amendment, they have a right to speak their minds. We'll see how much legal traction they get, but the point of this action is not to hate the men and women of the military, but to make sure that they are adults before we recruit them.