What Games Mean to the Military

What Games Mean to the Military

As we all observe (and in some cases participate personally) in the transitions that the United States military and other Alliance partners are making to support democratic embryos in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other less publicized corners of the world, it creates a certain emotion in each of us. While many have experienced the sadness associated with the loss of our brave brethren who fallen in pursuit this noble cause, many more have felt the pride of observing what we all hope to be lasting change in far corners of the world, and how each member of the military personally made a difference in this truly team effort of the highest order. The parents and spouses and children of these brave warriors that have played a part in the transition in Iraq and continuing battlefield engagements in and around Afghanistan, as well as many other challenged societies, can display a special pride.

To help active members of all branches of military get through mentally, there are a few major tools at their side. For many soldiers, the deepest-rooted beliefs are reinforced and built on through the study of religion. But many others also look to a lighter side of life to help cope with the challenges and trials they routinely face, and video gaming has become one of today’s favorite escapes for them, rivaling and surpassing movies, TV, books and board games both as a means for self-expression and creative release. A burgeoning artistic medium, games are tremendously popular amongst our servicemen and women, who use these cutting-edge interactive outings to relax and unwind, learn vital problem-solving skills and connect with friends and family the globe over. For many individuals, games don’t just provide a welcome break and relaxation from their daily responsibilities either. They also provide a vital lifeline to friends and family back home.

While historically such titles may have been viewed as simply mindless entertainment, the reality is that nowadays, video games are touching people’s lives in more ways than ever. From teaching essential leadership techniques to shedding new perspectives on challenging scenarios and raising awareness for causes like infectious disease and world hunger, the field’s potential is virtually endless. Credit a range of offerings in all categories that speak to every subject under the sun, from first-person shooters (see Call of Duty, Halo and other popular series) to role-playing games (RPGs) and massively multi-player online (MMO) games that offer worlds of science fiction and high fantasy. One can’t ignore the impact of casual games (Facebook-friendly outings such as FarmVille, Pet Society and their ilk) and an unending list of popular sports games (like NBA Jam, FIFA Soccer and Madden NFL) either, or popular music game franchises such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band that can help bring distant friends or entire families together.

No longer are video games a solo endeavor either—there are team orientations and community night type gatherings available 24/7, and the line between sites that enable competition across the entire spectrum of games and platforms and social networks has become clearly blurred. That’s why we’ve taken the step of creating sites like www.StripesGAMER.com, where enthusiasts can discuss, debate and compete within their favorite video game world. With a staff to monitor and support game playing, an advanced instant chat system, a range of forums, and a choice across any platform, it provides a common (and free to join) landing spot for gamers of all backgrounds and occupations, including not just members of the military, but friends and relatives as well, where specific teams cater to various interests and compete using natural affiliations.

So why mention this here? Given that video games have become such a large part of our troops’ lives, it’s just one of many ways we as a community can show our support for these brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect our freedom. It’s our hope that by raising awareness, others will step forward with a range of websites, blogs, services and platforms that help shine the light on such individuals, and boost knowledge of the military’s passion for a gaming as a whole. With so many popular titles from Call of Duty: Black Ops to Medal of Honor now focusing on armed engagements, there’s no reason the video game industry couldn’t support a wider range of initiatives designed to celebrate this passion, from community outreach programs and non-profit organizations to magazines and video programs designed to highlight how gaming culture has influenced an entire generation of recruits.

Given the thousands of men and women deployed overseas who are now swelling the ranks of the video game community, we hope more will enlist in support of the contributions they’re making to the hobby’s cause. For many players, it could be as easy as simply signing in and hoisting a controller.

About Terry Tognietti
Terry Tognietti is CEO of Military Entertainment Inc., the company behind StripesGAMER.com, and Chairman of Consumer Solutions Inc., a marketing firm for convenience-oriented consumer products, including WashEZE Laundry sheets. He has been honored as Entrepreneur of the Year twice, and was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine.

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