The Army Experience
From football to beach volleyball, competitive games can get your juices going.
But the ultimate game, the one that'll give you the greatest rush, is ... what? Why, it's war, of course. Yeah, man, you literally get to kill the other team! How great is that?
Such thinking (if it can be called thinking) is behind the latest leap in marketing by the U.S. Army. In its constant effort to lure young people into the killing business, the office of military recruitment has come up with a whiz bang showcase to appeal to a generation that's been raised on computer games and that hangs out at the mall a lot. It's called the "Army Experience Center," and the first one has opened right across from the Dave & Busters food and fun outlet in a mall in northeast Philadelphia.
With more than 14,000 square feet of prime mall space, the experience center is bigger than three basketball courts and is filled with lots of dazzle. There are nearly 80 video gaming stations, all sorts of interactive exhibits, a replica command-and-control center, and -- best of all -- a bunch of high-tech simulators that let the kids get a feel for the military action of, say, a Black Hawk helicopter.
The simulators are way cool. For example, youngsters can sit in a model chopper with a simulator that makes it seem as though they're ripping right over a mountain village, and – get this – they get the thrill of shooting at enemies in the village! Yes, the virtural thrill of the kill coming to a mall near you. And, indeed, the army says it hopes to replicate the experience all across the country.
One enthusiastic Army general says that the center is "a learning laboratory." Yeah, but... do we really want youngsters learning that stuff? Not to worry, say the recruiters, for the Army does have rules – for example, while the "laboratory" is open to all ages, kids can't play the video games until they're 13. No toddlers allowed.
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