The Army is not a stranger to use video games as a recruitment tool to get more people to arrive in their recruiting offices. The research and recruitment department even launched America’s Army series of games in 2002 on PC and Xbox. That series has ended with America’s Army Proving Grounds on PlayStation 4. The game series marketed itself as a true military sim game, often featuring a boot camp and training missions on all of the standard weapon platforms that the Army uses, as well as several campaigns that simulate various engagements in Afghanistan with the player taking the roles from a new rifleman up to an NCO in the 75th Ranger Regiment
In 2018, the Army and the Navy entered the Esports and Twitch scene with a professional team filled with soldiers and sailors, who would stream games when not performing their job’s function. These Twitch accounts ran into controversy from banning accounts that asked about war crimes to fake giveaways on their live streams. The Twitch account has been a success so far, with the Army gaining 3,500 recruiting leads in fiscal 2019, said Lisa Ferguson, media chief for Army Recruiting Command. The Army has gain 13,000 so far in fiscal 2020.
Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez proposed an amendment for bill H.R. 7617 which would set the budget for most of the public services including the military’s defense budget. Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment would restrict the military from using resources to recruit civilians via Twitch, something the Army’s and Navy’s esports teams have done as their landing page has various sources that lead to the official recruitment page. The wording of her amendment would have banned the military from maintaining a presence on Twitch or any other gaming platform.
Democratic Representative Pete Visclosky, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, opposed the amendment claiming; “The United States Military is a very special place…we oughta cast a very wide net to encourage young Americans to serve their country in the military.” As well Visclosky said that the military ran educational programs during the stream to educate their audience. Ocasio-Cortez responded, “Children on platforms such as Twitch are bombarded with banner ads that link to recruitment sign up forms that can be submitted by children as young as 12 years old. These are not educational outreach programs but recruitment forms.”
Ocasio-Cortez did also received criticism for overreach as how the military conducts itself falls under the executive branch, not to congress, who only sets the budget. Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment ultimately failed as on Thursday the House’s final vote was 292-126 against the amendment, with 13 members not voting. As well, Ocasio-Cortez’s other bill that would restrict the military from sending recruiters to public high schools failed to pass.