The pentagon announced yesterday that the armed forces would be working together with Activision, the studio most known for the best-selling “Call of Duty” video game franchise, in order to help combat rising suicide rates and low morale in enlisted personnel. The pairing of the largest military on the planet with a video game producer might surprise some; but it’s not as unexpected as one might think. Call of Duty is the second bestselling video game of all time; The Army on the other hand, is really good at killing people. It’s the difference between Virtual Reality and Reality, a line the army aims to blur in the coming years.
The idea to partner with Activision came when Lieutenant General Roger Morris observed how much fun his 15 year old son was having playing the newest Call of Duty installment he received for his birthday.
“I was drinking a scotch in my kitchen, and watching how completely immersed in this virtual game my son was. Totally oblivious to the world around him, but obviously having so much fun shooting other players, and I thought to myself, why does war have to be so serious? We should make it more like a video game!… This was something I knew I had to mention to the higher ups.”
After months of brainstorming sessions, the army has decided to implement new Heads-up-Display Glasses and a series of unlockable achievements.
“Generally, the most difficult thing in the military is getting people to be OK with killing another human being,” Says Military Analyst John Hudgens, “ We saw huge spikes in active service suicides [in 2010] following the video of an army helicopter mowing down civilians; apparently most soldiers are not ok with killing women and children. Or even people in general for that matter; but if we give them a little added incentive, it should eliminate this matter entirely. We hope to see suicide rates drop by half within the first month of implementing this new achievement system. As it stands, Losing a soldier every 18 hours to suicide is unacceptable. “
Traditionally military service is denoted by conformity and uniform, but the new achievement system will give certain incentives to soldiers for performing above and beyond the call of duty. For example, if a soldier reaches the 100 kill mark, they will receive the option of adding a series of customizable colored weapon covers for their rifle; a page taken right out of Call of Duty. While 100 kills may seem like a huge accomplishment, there is a wide range in achievement difficulty, from simple to incredibly difficult. For example, the first time a soldier experiences combat (and survives) he is rewarded with a sticker of Uncle Sam in combat fatigues having sex with death, with a scroll underneath saying “Death is my Bitch.”
These achievements will be tracked by a variation of the new Google Glass that will record everything a soldier sees, at the same time as acting to track combat statistics. Activating Achievements will cause an “Achievement unlocked” message that scrolls across the bottom of the glasses to alert soldiers in real time that they are doing a “real good job.”
“We hope that the addition of these unlockable achievements will boost motivation among troops, and as an added bonus, being that these achievements are readily visible on the uniform, we hope to generate some friendly, competitive rivalry among service members. Given the choice of the stick or the carrot, the army would rather use the carrot,” Lieutenant General Morris said.
The army hopes to beta test this new system in early 2015.