For the U.S. Army it's "an innovative way to reach a new audience" and "an opportunity to shape their tastes." The "Virtual Army Experience," a multi-million dollar videogame and traveling exhibit, has been making stops at amusement parks, air shows and county fairs over the past year and a half. One lieutenant colonel said of the exhibit, "There's no sales going on here. ... It's another way to tell our story." That's in addition to collecting the "age, address, phone number and email" of the young people who play the game. At the end of the videogame -- in which players protect "international aid workers" from "genocidal indigenous forces" -- an Iraq veteran talks to the players. The president of the marketing company that helped design the Virtual Army Experience said the post-game discussion is key, because that's when players "tend to be more receptive to the message the Army is trying to send them." When the Army brought the game to Milwaukee's annual music festival recently, many people complained. The Army compromised by modifying the game, "its images of dark-skinned 'terrorists' replaced with 'inanimate targets,'" according to the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
By Diane Farsetta on July 28, 2008