The U.S. Army wants you, gamers. It's testing a new kind of recruitment centre, one the New York Times is calling a "model for recruitment in urban areas," one that smacks of old-school arcades.
The first, a US$13 million facility built in the Franklin Mills mall in Philadelphia, PA, was designed to lure in shoppers and loiterers with free games like Rainbow Six: Vegas and Madden NFL 09. That's right. Come for the free games, stay for the "three full-scale simulators, including an AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter, an armed Humvee and a Black Hawk copter with M4 carbine assault rifles."
Dubbed the "Army Experience Center," recruiters contend that the goal isn't just to see who can kill more efficiently and rack up the highest scores, but to educate.
"Most people think joining the Army means being a grunt, and that Iraq equals death," First Sgt. Randy Jennings told the Times. "We try to show them that there's more to the Army than carrying a gun. If people come in here and they learn that but they don't join, that's O.K."
While it sounds like a brilliant strategy to get the violence-desensitised gaming crowd comfortable with riding in the back of a Humvee, it's also giving me a case of the willies. Anybody been?
Urban Tool in Recruiting by the Army: An Arcade [New York Times - thanks, Andy!]