The Portrayal of Military Service, Via America’s Army: Effects on the Enlistment Rates of Civilians Through the Measurements of Aggression Towards a Foreign Military Force Out-group: United States, Foreign, Military, Propaganda, Recruitment, Enlistment, V

Johnathan A Arnold, Professor Mary Boyes, Honors College, Virginia Commonwealth University, 701 W. Grace St., Richmond, VA 23220

     In order to transform its public image and boost recruitment in the early 2000’s, the United States military created a series of video games: titled America’s Army. The use of video games, as a medium of message delivery, targeted a tech-savvy, recruitment-eligible demographic of high-school-aged males. The U.S. military claimed that America’s Army was a realistic coordinated-combat simulator that provided civilians, and new enlistees, with a preview of the U.S. soldier occupation. The scope of the game focuses on leading the player through basic training and into multiplayer-combat with online teammates. However, the game uses a mechanic, known as the swapping paradigm, to prevent players from playing as any opposing military force. I hypothesize that the use of a single, exclusive in-group, being the U.S. military, and an inclusive conglomeration of foreign forces as an out-group, may persuade the players to associate negative qualities towards all non-U.S. forces. Research has shown that violent video games increase aggression in players, and America’s Army provides a broadly labeled out-group, with a motive of recruitment as a channel of aggression, to justify violence in the name of military service. The priming of players to view opposing forces as out-groups increases the tendency of the player to associate negative qualities towards the opposing forces’ character. With increased negative qualities comes increased targeted aggression. If the player wishes to channel their aggression, they will be more likely to enlist in the military. I propose that America’s Army, and other games that exploit the swapping paradigm, should not be used as a tool for recruitment. Further research is necessary to examine to opinions of current soldiers who enlisted as a result of gaining interest in service through America’s Army.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Johnathan Arnold

Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Type: Poster

Subject: Sociology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7155