Army recruits with arcades

Leave it to the US military to save the dying mall Arcade. Well, that’s not their actual plan behind building a $13 million dollar gaming arcade in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia. Their actual plan for building the thing is to recruit new recruits in urban areas into the US Military by showing them how much fun the army can truly be. The military often struggles in urban areas to garner much attention so they are hoping that the 14,500 square feet of mostly shoot-’em-up video games and three full-scale simulators, including an AH-64 Apache Longbow helicopter, an armed Humvee and a Black Hawk copter with M4 carbine assault rifles, will help to get more people thinking that heading over to Iraq might not be so bad.

Maj. Larry Dillard, the program manager for the arcade says that the arcade, which opened in August and is just next to a Gap and China Buddha Express, is taking the place of a number of recruiting stations throughout Philadelphia and operating at the same cost. “The question is, how can we get our stories out to urban centers where most of the population lives, but where we don’t have a big presence?” he said.

The nice part about all this is that the games are free once you fill out a card, on which you can decline to be contacted by recruiters. A full day of mall arcades without having to spend a single quarter. Many of the participants at the arcade said they had no desire to join the military, but they did want to play free videogames. Also of note is that the three simulators are not based around killing. All three are about humanitarian aid and, unlike many of the surrounding arcade shooters, players do not come under attack.

Much of the article discusses how the center is more about informing people about what the army does not just recruiting new soldiers. Either way this is an interesting (and expensive) attempt to get more recruits into the military. I’m not sure I like the idea of luring people in with videogames, even if it does seem to be a very low pressure situation. Then again, it’s good to see that the simulators aren’t glorifying death and destruction, but the life saving acts of the army. What do you guys think? Is this across the line or actually pretty cool?

Photo is by Jessica Kourkounis of the New York Times