I’ve more or less avoided the topic of Military and gaming, not sure why. Sometimes I feel since I do Communications in the Reserves I have less of a right to speak out on the needs or desires of my fellow soldiers. I have been to Iraq and back and gamed the whole time I was overseas.
I think I’m going to be doing a short series on Military Gaming though. Gaming and the Army are two things I am passionate about and I think a lot of people are considering how much soldiers in the United States Military rely on gaming as a stress relief.
If your average gamer uses video games to escape from the everyday stress of life the soldier does so and then some. For a deployed soldier a video game isn’t just relieving stress but a return to home. Playing a game you loved at home while being deployed brings a little bit of home with you. Whenever I got really depressed in Iraq I could load up Diablo 2 and as long as I was still staring at my screen I was back home, in my parents’ house safe. A familiar video game can be as useful as a phone call home or a picture of a loved one.
Any sort of game can help with stress. As a soldier I am required to take various classes on dealing with stress and identifying suicidal and homicidal signs. Intramural sports to board games can help alleviate any of these issues. While no game alone can solve these issues a game does assist in releasing stress and puts in you a situation with other people who can talk to you about your feelings.
What bothers me is that I feel most game developers are going to be overlooking this market in the near future. Deployed soldiers don’t have the internet. We can’t down load games, or patches, or verify a key code through Steam. If gaming is really moving towards soft copies of all games Soldiers are going to be left without a valued means of entertainment.