- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Army is shutting down a video game it has used for 20 years to persuade civilians to trade in their joysticks for rifles.

The game, “America’s Army: Proving Grounds,” is set to go offline on May 5, officials said. It marked the first use of game technology in support of Army recruiting, they said.

“As time has passed and (America’s Army: Proving Grounds) has fulfilled its mission, it is time to shift our focus to other new and innovative ways to assist the Army with comms and recruitment,” officials said in a statement posted on the game’s website.

In addition to allowing gamers to fight it out with the enemy, the game also had players take on more mundane soldier tasks, such as driving a Humvee. It quickly became one of the most popular games on the internet.

In its first five years, gamers spent 160 million hours on the site, according to a report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank. As a recruiting tool, “America’s Army: Proving Grounds” also was a resounding success.

A 2008 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that 30% of all Americans between 16 and 24 had a “more positive impression” of the Army because of the game.

“Even more amazingly, the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined,” Brookings reported.

The Army didn’t say if it is planning to introduce another video game in the future.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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