FORT KNOX, Ky. –
The Army eSports Team, a relatively new recruiting outreach initiative, uses giveaways of gaming chairs, consoles and controllers as a tool to generate interest among individuals who may be qualified for a career in the Army.
While the team members are not official Army recruiters, they use the same web-based platform as recruiters to gather basic information from interested individuals, so recruiters can then follow up to evaluate qualifications and conduct interviews with applicants.
The goarmy.com platform uses a standard submission form for all giveaways, events, recruiting stations and promotional activities as an efficient way to track which actions are the most effective. Approximately 10,000 unique codes are generated each year to track various marketing activities.
“While the web form may look the same externally for all events, each and every activity has its own code in the background,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, which oversees recruiting efforts for the U.S. Army and Army Reserve and includes the esports team. “On the surface, for things like giveaways, this allows us to ensure the right individuals are entered into a drawing, and from a strategic perspective, it gives us the ability to see which activities work and which ones don’t.”
The Army eSports Team recently came under scrutiny when Twitch, a live streaming platform for gamers, asked the team to remove a game controller giveaway for lack of transparency on the entry submission form. The team immediately complied and is currently evaluating ways to customize the Army’s standard submission form to provide more clarity for each of its giveaways.
Giveaways are a regular part of the Army’s overall marketing program and are used by recruiting stations and Army marketing assets to create brand awareness and generate interest. Giveaways can be smaller items like t-shirts, water bottles and pop sockets, or bigger items like the gaming stations, chairs and controllers the team gives away. The higher-end items are used for the register to win drawings online or at large events. The esports team alone has held 10 giveaways in the last year.
The Army eSports Team started in 2018 to help the Army find new ways to connect with qualified individuals who may not be aware of career opportunities in the military. The team members are able to have open discussions about their experiences in the Army while they are playing or streaming online. Other players can ask questions about careers and benefits and have an authentic engagement with a U.S. Army Soldier.
“Gaming is mainstream now,” Muth said. “It isn’t a small segment of the population anymore, as a majority of today’s young people are gaming in some form. They are gaining valuable skills - like problem solving, quick decision making, and strategic thinking – while doing it, which make them great potential candidates for many of the career fields we offer.”