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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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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.


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