Israel Defence Forces uses gamification to promote its part in Gaza conflict

IDF blog features a virtual army game offering users badges and points for sharing the blog's content on social media.

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The social-media campaign employed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in its latest conflict with Hamas over the Gaza Strip includes gamification.

The IDF's virtual army game.
The IDF's virtual army game.

The IDF blog features a virtual game, titled "IDF Ranks: The Virtual Army Game", which encourages visitors to the site to earn points and badges in return for spreading IDF content online through social media.

"IDF Ranks is an interactive game, directly implemented into all of the IDF's social platforms, allowing you to be a virtual part of the IDF," the blog states.

"Every action you take--reading, commenting, liking, sharing, or even just visiting--will earn you points, and help you climb the ladder of IDF Ranks. Specific actions will win you beautiful badges, and one day you might even become the chief of staff of IDF Ranks."

While the game was incorporated into the IDF blog in July, it has drawn more recent criticism from commentators who view the IDF's actions as a promotion of war in the current Gaza conflict.

"Israel is trying to enlist the people of the world in its campaign with military ranks, badges, and points," ReadWrite's Jon Mitchell wrote last week. "Innocent people are dying on all sides, and the IDF wants to reward people for tweeting about it. Israel has gamified war."

However, an IDF spokesperson refused to refer to the game as a gamification of the current conflict.

"In no way is 'IDF Ranks' meant to gamify Operation Pillar of Defense or any military actions during the operation," the spokesperson told ReadWrite.

According to Mitchell, 10 visits to the IDF blog gives users the "Consistent" badge, while searching the blog bestows the "Research Officer" badge.

"It's impossible to fathom how anyone could justify this trivialisation of war," Daily Life's Amal Awad added. "People are being killed, and the conflict is spiralling out of control, but observers can titillate themselves with a reward system for taking a side."

The game is positioned next to a "Rocket Counter" on the IDF blog, showing the number of rockets that have hit Israel since last year.

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