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Video games get political

Anyone ever hear of the America's Army video game? I've played it.

What we have is an average team-based shooting game, with RPG elements that allow players to customize their avatar's skills and specialties, gaining rank along the way. Then you go online and shoot people, except when you shoot them, they're other Army guys, so it isn't depicted as real fake violence. Its more like paintball-style.

Anyway, the other day at the Missouri Black Expo, the Army set up a kiosk with big video monitors playing America's Army. (The last time I saw an AA kiosk, it was a hummer with a fake machine gun mounted on top, and video monitors that read IR signals from the guns. It was simulating what it would be like to shoot down wave after wave of Iraqi insurgents.)

Everything was going well for the Army until a big group of Iraq Veterans Against the War showed up.

Probably better yet, the IVAW's presence got the attention of 1up.com, a popular video game Website from the publishers of Electronic Gaming Monthly. They simply do not touch political content.

The story turned out great, and the comments were rather telling of the political undercurrent among gamers (I think). Check it out. Here's a sample ...

The 90 or so soldiers present at the demonstration were all members of Iraq Veterans Against the War -- an action group composed of active duty, national guard reservists and veterans of the Iraqi conflict. The group's general mandate is to bring soldiers home from active duty in Iraq, make restitution and reparations to the Iraqi citizenry for the destruction incurred during the US occupation, and to secure benefits and adequate health care for returning servicemen and women.

The protest was actually part of IVAW's larger "Truth in Recruiting" initiative, set to officially launch on September 17. At the Expo, members chanted "War is not a game!" three times in front of the America's Army booth while dressed in identical black t-shirts, bearing the IVAW logo.

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