Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is my favorite living political figure. He looks like a little wood elf or a hobbit. He's always earnestly speaking about peace and justice. He claims he saw a UFO. And his wife is a stone fox who's like three feet taller than him and has a pierced tongue (see picture above.) Kucinich makes me proud to be an American, (where at least I know I'm free.)
Recently, on the floor of Congress, Kucinich took issue with the video-game-centric "Virtual Army Experience," a traveling roadshow the U.S. Army uses to convince teenagers to sign up for service in the armed forces, saying:
I think we can agree that the Virtual Army Experience video game must be revalidated to ensure that its age-appropriate rating is accurate in the context of how it's being employed; that the Virtual Army Experience content should be reviewed to ensure it accurately reflects the consequences of war; and that there must be increased transparency with regard to how the personal information of the participants, collected during participation, will be used by the Army.
If the Virtual Army Experience was a normal video game, I'd completely disagree with Kucinich: Expecting Call of Duty 4 to realistically depict the consequences of war would be like expecting Grand Theft Auto IV to realistically depict the consequences of auto accidents by having players fill out insurance paperwork every time they dinged another car. But The Virtual Army Experience is a different story.
Commercial video games are made for profit, and are almost always light entertainment that isn't meant to have a direct effect on players' actual lives. Virtual Army is funded by the tax-payers, and its goal is to get young people to enlist in the Army. And, failing that, at least collect their information so Army "sales people" can call them up and try to convince them. This is the definition of propaganda.
While we need an army, do we really want it staffed by people who think Army life is going to be like a video game? Do we want people to join for the wrong reasons? Kucinich is right. The Virtual Army Experience should portray the consequences of war accurately, so anyone thinking about joining the army can get a more accurate read of what that incredibly life-altering choice will mean for them and the people they care about. People should keep their eyes open to all sides of things, especially when they're making a huge decision like whether or not to join the army.