A report just coming out of Wired.com tells a story of how the U.S. Army was denied an order that would have young recruits training with your average video game console.
“Consoles seem to offer some advantages over computers when it… allows a training game to incorporate body movement.” Something much like the Nintendo’s Wii-mote, and later, Microsoft’s “Natal” and Sony’s “Arc” will no doubt hone certain skills and reflexes that PC mouses simply can’t. The other upside to choosing consoles over PCs is the monetary aspect of shelling out $1000 for a “government computer” when something like an Xbox 360 can be obtained for less than $200.
So it seems to make sense for the Army to replace their PCs with Xbox 360s, right?
Unfortunately, Microsoft does not see the relationship as clear-cut, releasing this statement as to why they deny supplying the U.S. Army with 360s as training materials:
• Microsoft was afraid that the military would buy up lots of Xbox 360s, but would buy only one game for each of them, so MS wouldn’t make much money off of the games.
• A big military purchase could create a shortage of Xbox 360s.
• If the Xbox became an Army training device, it could taint its reputation. Microsoft was concerned that “do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? Do we want Mom and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?
Spokespeople for the Army have established that their “initial enthusiasm when Xbox and XNA were new products has cooled”, stating that they are currently not actively pursuing in alternatives to the training methods already in place.
Personally, all of those points Microsoft had made are pretty weak.
First off, “buy only one game for each [Xbox]”? Have you seen how many shooters your console is supporting Microsoft? You have got the big daddy of online console multiplayer (Halo 3) and the lion’s share of Activision’s Modern Warfare 2 ($500 million in 5 days). The Army would definitely have more than one game for each of their 360s, not to mention for the fact that soldiers themselves would no doubt secretly purchase games for their own use of the console… and think of it another way – you’ll have a entertainment-deprived young adult whose only access to fun would be through your console. You think that once they got out of the army they would go Xbox? Perhaps.
Second, “shortage of Xbox 360s”? You wish, man. You could of had the Sony and Nintendo experience… people battling to the death for your system, but oh no – you want there to be a 5-by-6 foot stack of Xbox 360s towering at my local Best Buy. Yeah, thanks for helping the boys in blue decide what to put in that empty walkway!
I can see where Microsoft’s third point might spark something from those “pro-family coalition”-radicals… but do you even realize the other crap you can be getting from “Mom and Dad”, regardless of your product training soldiers to defend them? Mom’s little angel is out jacking cars and beating hookers in Grand Theft Auto IV, while Dad’s pride and joy is gratuitously chainsawing through an alien race of subterranean humanoids in Gears of War 2, while verbally assaulting them into submission for tampering with the game once they bite the dust!
Way to go, Microsoft! Show those U.S. Army thugs that you won’t give into their offer of a “good” and “charitable” image… don’t let them scare you, you know what the hell you’re doing!