British Army launches game-based recruitment

"Start Thinking Soldier" campaign to target online games players; Army says two-thirds of 17- to 21-year-olds have no career path in mind.

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Military forces around the world haven’t been slow to see video games as useful recruitment tools. Young people well versed in shooters are regarded as ‘ideal’ for piloting Apache helicopters, while the US Air Force took advantage of Halo 3 as a recruitment tool. The US Army launched America's Army, an online first-person shooter to encourage people to enlist, and most recently, the U.S. Army Experience Centre opened in Philadelphia, loaded with 19 Xbox 360s, interactive map screens, and simulated attacks from an Apache helicopter.

Now, the British government is set to use a similar tactic to help enlist the nation’s youth in the armed forces. A campaign titled "Start Thinking Solider" will include an online game where players have to escape enemy tunnels from a first-person perspective, find the parts to make a bomb in an enemy stronghold, and answer multiple-choice questions.

Research conducted for the British Army recently found that 68 percent of 17- to 21-year-olds had no career path in mind. The campaign, consisting of four television commercials, will be targeted at that group, each ad highlighting a particular area of Army expertise, including teamwork, decision making, leadership, and fitness and mental sharpness.

At the end of each ad, viewers will be asked the question "What would you do?" and are encouraged to head online to answer the question via the interactive game.

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