July 21, 2020

The military is using esports to recruit gamers

But not everyone loves what the recruiters are up to.

Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The US military has a new recruiting weapon — Twitch streams. 

The Army, Navy, and Air Force all have their own official Twitch channels, where service personnel stream Call of Duty and chat about enlisting with the platform’s young, predominantly male user base.

The military needs recruits 

It fell 6.5k short of its recruiting target in 2018. Of Twitch’s 15m+ daily users, 81.5% are male, and more than half are between the ages of 18 and 34. 

Twitch is only one front in the military’s social media recruiting push. The Army sponsors Call of Duty, and the Department of Defense is expected to spend $14.9m advertising on Snapchat this year. 

The push may be working — the military exceeded its 2019 goal and is on pace to meet this year’s target as well. 

Unsurprisingly, not everyone loves this strategy

A report by The Nation revealed the Army was using fake giveaways of gaming consoles to direct users to recruiting websites, sparking criticism from popular streamers. Twitch removed the giveaway for violating its guidelines.

The Army has also banned users who flooded its streams with comments about US war crimes — legal experts told The Washington Post that the bans are unconstitutional.

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