Congressman Kucinich Seeks to Kill Army “Virtual Experience” Traveling Game Exhibit

Posted by | March 13, 2009

Six fully-armed military vehicles, 70 flat screen displays, 50 players. It’s 19,500 square feet of video game firepower, and the Army has aimed this beast directly at America’s youth. The Virtual Army Experience represents one of the latest examples of how the military has embraced video games both as a training, and especially, a recruitment tool. The traveling Virtual Army Experience allows recruitable teens to run through a simulated mission to deliver supplies to aid workers in a fictional city. It also lets them wield laser guns and show off their driving skills against virtual opponents.

Yesterday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich sent a letter to the House Committee on Armed Services requesting the financial head of the Experience on a platter. In the letter, Kucinich accused the game of being nothing more than a thinly-veiled recruitment tool that glorifies violence and killing. Well, yeah. According to the letter, the Army’s traveling virtual show runs a budget of 9.8 million human dollars.

Now, I can’t say who is right in this little tiff, because where else are you going to run through a game involving a convoy of real military vehicles? That’s some cool beans, yo. But soldiering is an ugly, dull, and dangerous job in real life, one mixed in with blood and the occasional charred body. Just look up old photos of Gulf War the First to get some perspective on what modern weapons can do to a human body. Still, this expanded use of video games and simulation by one of the more conservative institutions in our nation’s government does represent the future for all industries. Games can train, they can inform, they can inspire. If the Army is hot to expand its virtual operations, how long until the rest of us catch the same fever?

You can find Congressman Kucinich’s letter right over here.

2 Comments so far
  1. Andrew
    March 25, 2009 2:30 pm

    As a former military marketer whose last project with the Army was the VAE, I could not be any happier with the possibility of this project losing its funding. It was a completely misguided effort from the start that hemorrhaged taxpayer money and operated without even minimal knowledge of appropriate safety standards or ethical considerations. In my opinion, one need look no further than the Advertising Agency behind the effort to find the flaws that ultimately brought the exhibit to the brink of its elimination. Normally, I would say that I hate to be an “I told you so”. But in this case, I love it. For more info on deceptive military recruitment, visit

  2. Helvetica
    March 25, 2009 2:36 pm

    I am really intrigued by this. Thanks for the link and the info, Andrew.

    I was reading the first paragraph of the post and wondered about wielding laser guns! I want a laser gun… It simply reckoned me to America’s Army for a moment — a game with no laser guns. I have to admit, this was the first I heard of this display in the first place. It’s an interesting thing: military recruitment.

    Most of us already used to commercials and tables of good-looking-in-uniform men and women on college campuses with pristine tables smiling at passersby; but not so much traveling sideshow virtual world video games.

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