UPDATE: Joe DeLappe of Dead in Iraq fame has produced a website for America’s Diplomat, the America’s Army replacement. Check it out here: America’s Diplomat
Yesterday, thousands of New Yorkers received a morning jolt before even having their first sip of coffee. Volunteers around the city handed out free copies of a Special Edition New York Times that announced the Iraq War was over, a maximum wage law was passed, new federal spending would spread bike lanes across the nation, and dozens of other liberal fantasies. And, for the moral gamers out there, one headline read, “Popular “America’s Army” Video Game, Recruiting Tool Cancelled.” There’s even a fake NYT website to accompany the paper. You can go here and read the article, or in case the site’s owners receive a cease and desist order, we’ll reprint the article in full.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense announced yesterday the cancellation of its highly successful and popular “America’s Army” online game and recruitment tool. The program has already been converted into a new game, operated by the State Department, entitled “America’s Diplomat.” State Department spokesperson Donald Demsfold called this “a pretty good step towards nurturing a generation committed to the principles of diplomacy and peaceful negotiation.”
America’s Army was an online game designed by the Army to attract young recruits via simulated combat missions, many of which were modeled on actual battlefields in the Middle East.
During its use as a recruitment tool, America’s Army consistently ranked among the top 20 Internet-based games. First launched in July of 2002 at a cost of $10 million dollars, America’s Army’s annual support budget was estimated at $1.5 million.
The cancellation of the game comes as part of the elimination of the Army’s entire $583 million recruiting budget.
Early versions of the game were only moderately successful with young people, but the more subtle game is expected to inspire longer-term dedication. “I’ve never experienced such an exciting simulation of international negotiations,” Greg Hauser, 14, told the press. Hauser is president of the Eastern High School debate club.
The State Department has high hopes for America’s Diplomat, given its predecessor’s highly successful
history. In 2005, 40 percent of all recruits surveyed had played America’s Army game prior to enlisting. As the game’s popularity grew, and after dozens of new releases, the America’s Army brand expanded to include console and cell-phone games, T-shirts, and the Real Heroes program, a section of the America’s Army website that highlighted actual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even recreated them as action figures.
The avowed purpose of America’s Diplomat is to encourage young people to consider careers in the diplomatic corps, and to present non-military alternatives in a positive light. Where the ability to aggressively attack and kill opponents spelled success in America’s Army, America’s Diplomat stresses situations that demand negotiation, dialogue and peaceful outcomes.
Reactions from gamers have been intense as those attempting to access the America’s Army website have been redirected to the new America’s Diplomat site.
Lenny Purvill, a 16-year-old player, noted an initial disappointment in finding his favorite online game replaced. “I liked to pretend I was in the army going on missions in Iraq. And blowing stuff up was fun,” he told the press. Purvill, who has been playing the game since he was 13, had been considering signing up when he turned 18.
His initial disappointment, however, was replaced by fascination as he facilitated a peaceful negotiations between Sunni and Shiite militiamen. “It was like, are they gonna shoot each other? No! They’re not! ’Cause I’m helping them settle their differences with diplomacy. It’s so awesome,” he said.
Purvill also said he excitedly anticipates the expansion of the game in the coming months. This is expected to include new mission updates such as “United Nations,” “Peace Corps,” “Swords to Plowshares” and “Gandhi’s HungerStrike!”
Demsfold acknowledged that the game represents a major shift in focus. “The next generation of government game-playing kids may not be able to kill very well, but they’ll be able to practice diplomacy. That’s what our national security calls for.”
Defense Secretary Scott Ritter acknowledged that national security could benefit from the new game. “One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win,” he noted.
Unlike its predecessor, America’s Diplomat has been pronounced suitable for children of any age by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
America’s Diplomat is available online: americasdiplomat.com