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.