Recruitment Through Video Games

The Guildhall at SMU is a grueling 21-month program that teaches students how to make video games.

The Guildhall at SMU is a grueling 21-month program that teaches students how to make video games. It’s a boot camp for gaming nerds, if you will. So it seems natural that five students from the school teamed with the U.S. Army to create new missions for the popular America’s Army multiplayer video game, recently released through Americasarmy.com and free to anyone with an Internet connection and an affinity for camouflage. The game is a recruiting tool for the Army. It provides accurate depictions of a soldier’s life, beginning with basic training. Along the way, the player learns about the Army’s values and high-tech equipment. Once you’re on a mission—and you’re always on a mission with other players—the game requires teamwork. Some guys drive Hummers, others work as gunners. As in the Army, you’re trained to carry out only your specific task, to excel only in your given role. It’s a professionalism the Army loved, and also why it approached SMU. The Guildhall is a grad program whose faculty members have often worked in gaming for all of their adult lives. Since the two sides initially met, in 2005, there has been a shared respect. “Our ethos and their ethos connect,” says Guildhall executive director Peter Raad. “It’s about achieving excellence in teamwork.”

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