Air Force using Halo 3 as recruiting tool

When GameStop turns away minors from a tournament to promote the M-rated game, Uncle Sam steps in with pizza, soda, and plasma grenades.

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SIDEBAR: Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 finally arrived in stores yesterday, giving gamers everywhere a chance to "finish the fight." And just in case their taste for combat isn't quite sated, the US Air Force wants to offer them another fight.

With the Halo 3 launch hype in full swing yesterday, The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on the efforts of a local group of Air Force recruiters to capitalize on the occasion. The Air Force cosponsored a Halo 2 tournament at an area GameStop store, with the winner set to receive a copy of the third game in the series.

However, that tournament was postponed by a GameStop district manager because gamers under the age of 18 had signed up to compete on the game, which is rated M for Mature (17 and older). But whereas GameStop sent eager minors away disappointed, the US Air Force stepped in to help them get their Halo fix.

The recruiters set up a party area in a nearby strip-mall parking lot, where the Union Leader reported that they could scarf down pizza, choke down Mountain Dew, and play Halo 2 on a TV "from the back of a pimped-out military SUV." According to the article, a 13-year-old gamer and three of his fellow eighth-grade classmates were there playing the game, which they'd been anticipating since Halo 2 came out in 2004, when they would have been 10.

"We expect a big showing," recruiter Staff Sgt. Christopher Johnson was quoted as saying. "We have the same demographic as they do... Our target market is identical to that of video game stores."

The approach has proven successful in the past. Johnson told the paper that a similar party for last month's release of Madden NFL 08 led to two new recruits signing up. Johnson said he has yet to hear anyone object to such military recruitment efforts targeted at adolescent gamers.

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