Help Stop the Army’s Child Recruitment Program
“America’s Army” Videogame Targets Children as Young as 13
South Park Game Companies Profit from Illegal Recruitment Program
Rally and Direct Action, Noon, Aug. 6th
South Park, (btw 2nd/3rd, Bryant/Brannan) San Francisco
Tell the companies “Break contract with the Army, No more child recruitment”
“America’s Army” is a game developed by the U.S. military to instruct players in “Army values,” portray the army in a positive light, and increase potential recruits. The “game” is the property and brainchild of the US Army, which admit freely, and with pride, that it is one of their principal recruitment tools.
America’s Army has been available since 2002 as a free download or as a CD available in recruiting stations. It is published and distributed by Ubisoft right here in South Park. Ubisoft is not the only South Park neighbor engaged in the development of the game, Gameloft is working on the cell phone application and Secret Level was a designer on the 2005 Xbox version. The game has been granted a “teen” rating, allowing 13 year olds to play.
The military recruitment of children under the age of 17, however, is a clear violation of international law (the U.N. Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict). No attempt to recruit children 13-16 is allowed in the United States, pursuant to treaty. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union published a report that found the armed services regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment. The report highlighted the role of “America’s Army,” saying the Army uses the game to “attract young potential recruits . . . train them to use weapons, and engage in virtual combat and other military missions”, adding that the game “explicitly targets boys 13 and older.”
It is also important to consider the effects of the game within the context of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, soldiers now recruited through “America’s Army” will serve in these wars. The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are violations of international law, and
contributing to their continuation through the propagation of the game is, if not a criminal violation, a moral outrage.
The game is having an effect. An informal study showed that 4 out of 100 new recruits in Ft. Benning, Georgia credit America’s Army as the primary factor in convincing them to join the military. 60% of those recruits said they played the game more than five times a week. And a 2004 Army survey found that nearly a third of young Americans ages 16 to 24 had some contact with the game in the previous six months.
This August 6, on the 63rd Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, come out and ask the Producers and developers of America’s Army to stop helping the Army recruit children.
We are asking you to consider three steps:
1. Support for our campaign against America’s Army
2. Sign our letter and endorse this campaign.
3. Participate in our upcoming event on Hiroshima Day (Wed., Aug. 6), at noon, in South Park (btw 2nd/3rd, Bryant/Brannan), asking these companies to either withdraw from their Army contracts or provide a warning label: “This game is designed to recruit children in violation of international law. Military service can be hazardous to your health.”