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A young man plays CoD 4 at the new facility  (Source: Reuters)

Several young men shoot virtual insurgents from a Humvee  (Source: U.S. Army)
The U.S. Army gets even more interactive while trying to get new recruits

As wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rage on, the U.S. Army is again using video games and virtual reality as methods to try and get new recruits to enlist.

The Army is looking to create these gaming depots in major shopping malls and other locations across the country.  The Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia has a new Army Experience Center in a 14,500-square-foot location that has a Black Hawk helicopter, Apache gunship, and a Humvee.  The Philadelphia location is a $12 million, two-year experiment to see if the Army can increase recruiting numbers in the Philadelphia area.

Inside the location at Franklin Mills are 60 gaming PCs, 19 Microsoft Xbox 360s, and couches and soft drinks for visitors to enjoy while at the facility.   It's also possible to participate in a virtual war zone using mock M4 assault rifles, using the Humvee as a shield while firing.  Another room has a simulator in which participants can launch helicopter attacks against enemy soldiers hiding on roof tops and buildings.   

Since opening in August, the recruiting facility has recruited 37 active duty soldiers and five reservists -- the one interactive center successfully recruited the same number of recruits as five normal recruiting centers.  The Army has struggled recruiting new soldiers in the Philadelphia area, which is why the center was built in the area.

The U.S. Army also has its America's Army video game designed to create interest in enlisting, with the government continuing to promote the game during tech and video game tech shows.

Recruiters hope interested parties will visit the center and enjoy a more laid back, interactive atmosphere that is less pushy than normal recruiting depots.  

The Pentagon believes the growing recessing and rising unemployment could help boost recruiting numbers for the Army, Marines and other military branches.

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got to agree
By MadMan007 on 1/14/2009 10:18:10 PM , Rating: 5
I've got to agree with the sentiments of the other posters so far. Virtual reality and simulation as a training tool is fantastic once you're in but I find it a little sickening as a recruitment tool. Being in the military and especially being deployed in live action is serious stuff, implying that a video game is anything like real combat to those not already in the service is disturbing.

RE: got to agree
By majBUZZ on 1/14/2009 10:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
This pretty much sums up both points of view

RE: got to agree
By Hiawa23 on 1/15/2009 10:41:20 AM , Rating: 2
I have two brothers that made the mistake of going into the military. One came back, never the same person. Before he left we were close he was a nice guy, but he came back from the War damaged, a gun freak, paranoid, any loud noises set him off, & has divided us. Thank God, my other brother wised up got out went back to school & got his education, as he is doing well. I respect anyone who goes into any military service as I think it is necessary & important, I just can't recommend it to anyone who has a better option & for them to use games, well, that just doesn't seem right. Most of these men & women if not damaged physically, usually are damaged mentally.

RE: got to agree
By g35fan on 1/15/2009 12:24:50 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed. Makes me sick they use this to draw young kids in. Keep them there as long as possible with nice cozy couches and fun toys and get them acustomed to being around military personnel.

We'll have to wait and see as I'm not sure of the "area" of this Philadelphia mall...but I'm guessing it's a low income area as that's where most recruiters prey. I live in an upper middle class neighborhood and have never seen 1 single recruiter in this area in nearly 25yrs. Isn't that amazing?

RE: got to agree
By afkrotch on 1/15/2009 10:01:58 AM , Rating: 2
If it's a mall with a large enough space for all that, I highly doubt it's going to be in a low income area. Course how many large malls have you ever seen in a low income area?

Most recruiters are put into either the business district or inside a shopping mall. Doubt you find many of that in any housing area, regardless of the income of the residents.

RE: got to agree
By on 1/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: got to agree
By Wightout on 1/16/2009 4:51:52 AM , Rating: 1
Wow... just wow

I am glad you have enlightened me with such points as those...

RE: got to agree
By hipcraka on 1/15/2009 11:07:38 AM , Rating: 2
This mall is not in a "poor" area. It does get its fair share of lower, lower-middle and middle class visitors though. With the amount of violence and gun violence plaguing Philadelphia's teens, its a wise choice to put the center in a place teens feel safe. Recruiting practices have always been manipulative. The Army has just upgraded hardware to better manipulate the 21st century teen. I am in no way saying that I agree or have agreed with recruiting practices, but they do make a lot of marketing sense.

btw. King of Prussia is the mall of choice for you "upper"classes in the surrounding area.

RE: got to agree
By Aloonatic on 1/15/2009 4:06:15 AM , Rating: 4
Army recruitment is a little dubious over here in the UK too but they haven't reached these levels of desperation just yet. That probably has more to do with budget rather than any moral objection however.

In the UK they pretty much stick to the old school "see the world" approach and show squadies on white sandy beaches having fun with their mates in crystal clear blue seas, skiing or anything else fun with the occasional shot of a nice piece of military hardware such as a tank or two as a helicopter gunship flies over head.

Not one advert has the disclaimer at the bottom saying anything about how you will be bullied (possibly pushed to suicide which will be covered up) during your basic training and then shoved out in the middle east for years on end living on your wits and fearing for your life with the prospect of being shot or blown-up in woefully inadequate land rovers (not the big armour seen in the adverts) and die for nothing before being sent back to the UK and turfed out on to the streets where you are expected to adjust instantly and have no problems.

It must make the agency that came up with the commercials for the iPhone sick to see what the MOD get away with.

RE: got to agree
By g35fan on 1/15/2009 8:16:20 AM , Rating: 2
I have an idea for the US Army's marketing department. Immediately hire Apple to do all of your advertising. They can sell millions of $2,000 laptops, $500 iphones and $300 Ipods to low income idiots. Think what they can do for you!

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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