Where kids are going today is Twitch, and the U.S. Army knows that. And it seems like every teen wants to be a game-streamer or a Tik-Toker nowadays. But do you know who else is going to Twitch? The Military, and not only for playing but for recruiting as well.
Several weeks of political debate have passed, and an opposing bill was canceled. the U.S. Congress allowed the Military to continue recruiting gamers on Twitch
It means the Military can continue attracting teens via the streaming platform. They can do the same on any other eSports scenario they choose.
The opposing bill wanted to stop attempts to lure potential recruits. On August 3, the opposing bill was defeated: the U.S. Army is free to recruit teens via online gaming.
The U.S. Army Twitch channel
The U.S. Army opened its Twitch channel by late 2019 as part of a new strategy. In particular, they opened a Call of Duty: Warzone team. They opened teams for League of Legends, Counter-Strike: G.O., Fortnite, Apex Legends, and more.
Taking WIN.gg as the source, we’re sharing the words of the Army Esports team general manager, Sergeant First Class Christopher Jones.
“(The goal of our eSports team is connecting America to its army through the passion of gaming.”
Their live streamings feature actual U.S. Army soldiers playing various online competitive games, mostly shooters. They are somehow popular and rather infamous. The USArmySports Twitch channel has about 13.8K followers, which is an important number on the platform. (Please don’t hit that link if you’re under 18 years old. It’s only for reference).
Eventually, they took their growing popularity on the eSports scene as an opportunity to lure young gamers into their ranks.
One of their first tries was about 8 months ago with a particular advertising sport. Trap-pop music, video game aesthetics, neat editing, and heroic potential. It had it all to appeal fresh-out-of-school CoD players.
And do you know what the problem is? Kids can’t distinguish an advertising spot from reality.
U.S. Army faux advertising on Twitch
The U.S. Army was exposed not too long ago for their dubious actions on their Twitch channel. They were producing teen-pandering content. Many users, YouTubers, and media accused it as “false advertising.”
In particular, the U.S. Army was running a faux Twitch contest on their channel. I wish I could show it to you, but after much backlash, the Military took it down.
We know the contest included a link to win the $200 “Xbox Elite 2” controller. However, the link only sent participants to a U.S. Army recruiting site. Most of the giveaway’s participants were 13-year-olds.
It was happening during July and stopped about a week ago. U.S. politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed a measure to stop the practice. It was a bill to prevent the Military from using online games and eSports to recruit people.
Twitch asked the U.S. Army to stop using their site for shady giveaways. At the same time, Ocasio-Cortez led the bill against the Army’s fake advertising. On a passionate speech on the congress, the representative said:
“Children as young as 13 and often as young as 12 are targeted for recruitment that can be filled online.”
As a result, the U.S. Army has retreated from Twitch. But it only seems their eSports pause is a momentary step. Why? Because they have a green light to continue.
The defenseless bullied soldiers
Can you imagine a 7-feet tall U.S. Army bearded soldier crying for Twitch’s help for being “bullied”? Well, apparently that’s exactly what’s going on.
After Twitch users discovered the fake advertising, hundreds of users began bombarding the Army’s Twitch channels.
The “trolling” was about sharing references to war atrocities committed by the U.S. Military. And over “300” trolls were banned from the Army’s Twitch channel chat.
This follows a report by journalist and activist Jordan Uhl. He was researching the Us Army recruiting tactics on Twitch.
First, he found out that Twitch doesn’t consider the military streams as mature content. That means anyone older than 13 (Twitch’s minimum age) can watch.
Outside of gaming platforms, the U.S. Army can only recruit people who are of age. On Twitch, though, they can talk to children using their language: memes, games, and relatable music.
Uhl also found out the Twitch was filtering messages and banning users from the Army’s channel. The platform wasn’t going to allow any “trolling.”
“Trolling” the USArmy Twitch channel
The “trolling” went something like this, according to Uhl’s own story. He wanted to see how fast the banning was happening, so he decided to jump on a July 8 CoD: Warzone by the Us Army eSports team. Then, he had a little chat with Joshua David (AKA “Strotnium”), a U.S. Military Green Beret.
(Source: The Washington Post)
“What’s your favorite U.S. War crime.”
The filter blocked the phrase immediately. But he continued:
“What’s your favorite u.s. w4r cr1me”
“You little Internet Keyboard monstners, I won’t stand for that. I’m bigger than you.”
He probably is bigger, though. Like….20 pounds of trained-like-steel muscle bigger. Still, Uhl was kicked out of the chat about 5 seconds later.
Strotnium took the opportunity to respond again. Being on the side of power is easy:
“Have a nice time getting banned, my dude,”
The U.S. Army jumped to defend real-time bans. Lisa Ferguson, an army spokeswoman, said the comments are prohibited by Twitch’s terms of service.
I think it’s time to note the Army’s retreat from Twitch is an internal desition. The platform has taken no action. Twitch has also not commented about the bans.
Twitch is a growing trend for teens
Currently, Twitch sits on 1.5 billion hours watched per month, with an average of 2.1 million viewers per day. That still falls bellow YouTube’s over 30 million visitors per day. However, when it comes to video game streams, Twitch is a real threat to Google’s platform.
Statistics show about 7.4 million active users and over 10 million recurrent users. Most of the users, though, are teens. About 80% of Twitch audiences are male, whereas about 40% of the users are underaged. That’s the kind of audience the U.S. Army is targeting.
Currently, the top 5 most-watched games on Twitch are LoL, Fortnite, GTA V, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Valorant. 4 out of 5 are shooters, and the U.S. Army Twitch channel has a presence in all of them. The top Twitch streamers, like “Nickmercs,” “Auronplay,” Alexandre “Gaules” Borba are all about playing these Battle Royale shooters.
Even without their Twitch channel, it seems to me like competitive shooters are great advertising for the U.S. Army either way.