Baton Rouge, La –
Army Entertainment, Family Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and the Baton Rouge Recruiting Battalion are teaming up to bring Soldiers and the community the Army Esports tournament live on Twitch from July to September.
Twitch is the largest online streaming gaming platform where millions of gamers unite to play, watch and interact with their favorite video games. According to the Twitch website, 70 percent of millennials play video games, and most all follow or play on Twitch.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, Hammond Recruiting Station Commander, Baton Rouge Company, stepped in to be the bridge between the Twitch community and the Army community.
“I wanted to show the human side of being a Soldier, displaying the diverse hobbies and passions, instead of the perceived notion of what a Soldier is like,” he said. “My love for gaming goes so far back and I see every day the opportunity to connect the two worlds.”
Since he first started gaming at age five, Jones has had a passion for the stories and game play that it’s offered. Jones has an online live streaming presence in the Twitch community, playing a variety of games such as World of Warcraft, God of War and Destiny 2. He often provides advice and guidance to those interested in what the Army has to offer in his chat stream.
“Growing up I had a history of military service. In high school, I was in Army JROTC and spoke to all of the branches but the Army gave me the opportunity to choose a profession I was interested in at the time which was law enforcement,” he said. “So I like to tell everyone how the Army has allowed me to continue to enjoy my hobbies and passions and that you do not have to sacrifice what you love to serve your country.”
Jones took the role of shoutcaster, similar to sports commentary, in these tournaments, along with James Chen, Luis “Rynge” Avila and Mike “Danke” Schiller, to interview the Soldiers playing in the tournament. Jones steps in to decode the Army speak, tell the players’ Army story, and be the bridge to civilians watching at home.
“Twitch is a storytelling platform that allows Soldiers to tell personal stories which connect us to the civilian community,” said Jones. “This allows every Soldier to tell their Army story and become like an SRAP/Recruiter.”
His main recruiting message is to show the civilian population watching, as well as the intended target market, that gamers and Soldiers are not far apart in interests and wanting more opportunities for their lives.
“We want to show the civilian populace that you can join the Army and the Army will embrace you for who you are,” he said. “These are the untold stories of today’s Army. Their stories of why and how they joined are interesting and have a profound impact on someone watching who could be just like them.”
The Fort Gordon top Army winner was Spc. Mikaul McDermid, “frankistrash,” who enlisted as a 25N. He drove from Ft. Bliss to take part in the tournament because he was out in the field the day of the Bliss tournament. He was originally a middle school teacher in Orlando, Forida and decided he wanted to do even more with his computer science degree and serve his country, like his father. He will compete against 2nd Lt. Ryan Deopante, the Fort Bliss winner.
Twitch influencers and personalities provide credibility to the tournament as well as bring along a loyal and active fan base to the viewership. Having personalities, such as Chen and Schiller, talk about the Army alongside Soldiers could potentially inspire young men and women to join.
In the closing segment of the Gordon live show, Chen interviewed Jones, asking what it meant to him to be one of the people to create these events for Soldiers.
“We all grow up in the gaming community and we’re spread out,” he said. “But with this platform bringing the community together, to include Soldiers, and watch them display their talent, is absolutely amazing.”
The live stream on Twitch started at Fort Bliss, TX at the end of July, and averaged over 500 logged on viewers, with more than 2500 impressions. At the Fort Gordon tournament August 11, over 11,000 individuals logged on to watch the tournament, with more than 550,000 impressions. This viewership will only grow, as the eight tournament winners go on to compete in the final round at Pax West, a festival for gamers to celebrate gaming culture.
The MWR Esports Tournament has stops at eight installations, and live broadcasts on the Twitch platform at Fort Bliss, Fort Gordon, Fort Wainwright, Joint Base Lewis McChord and the finale held at Pax West.
To watch the tournaments and follow the journey of all the winners, log on to twitch.tv/armyentertainment. To follow Sgt. 1st Class Jones and his journey on Twitch, follow him @abnmp269.