Military propaganda video game Halo 3 dominates market
Update: This article originally stated that Halo 3 has now sold more copies than the “Harry Potter series.” This refers to the Harry Potter video game series, and not the films.
The September 2009 NPD video game sales report has just been released, and Halo 3: ODST was the big winner, pulling in over 1.5 million units sold and tripling its nearest competitor. Halo 3 is a dream recruiting tool for the military, a perfect amalgam of propaganda and entertainment that highlights all of the unrealistic, hyper-machismo badassery of Hollywood-style war, while completely whitewashing the moral relativism of real-world conflicts.
The Halo trilogy’s protagonist is the Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced human super-soldier (though in ODST, the game focuses on the soldiers known as Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or ODSTs). The Master Chief aids future humanity in battling the Covenant, a theocratic alliance of alien races. Like in most video games, the alien races are designed as the anti-human, horrible, amoral, disgusting beasts created for one purpose: to be destroyed. That’s just smart business. After all, a complex video game illustrating the complicated gray areas of morality that exist in war wouldn’t be as enjoyable to impressionable 12-year-old boys (the industry estimates claim that at least 20 percent of the players are between 12 and 16.)
In addition to presenting “the enemy” as an alien that needs to be crushed, the thoroughly creepy Halo 3: ODST trailer depicts war as a perpetual, cradle-to-grave event:
It’s no wonder Air Force and Army recruiters have attempted to capitalize on the games by cosponsoring Halo tournaments. In 2008, the US Army sponsored a series of “Basic Combat Training” mini-contests through Xbox Live. The first contest was entitled “Sniper School.”
Entertainment products like Halo 3 are ideal tools for the military because video games bypass those pesky legal barriers that make it illegal for the military to recruit minors. They’re a sort of pleasant version of the Ludovico technique in A Clockwork Orange, but instead of having their eyelids forced apart by metal prongs, the military’s audience is captivated by impressive graphics and the constant onslaught of violent imagery.
It’s a less overt, less controversial way to gain access to children than, say, slipping a provision into the No Child Left Behind Act that requires high schools to give recruiters the names and contact details of all juniors and seniors, which also happened in 2002 thanks to Republicans, and specifically, prostitute-enthusiast David Vitter.
Microsoft made $170 million on the first day of Halo 3’s release. It estimated 1 million players were online within 20 hours of the release, and Halo 3 has now sold more copies than the Harry Potter video game series. The Army has spent over a million dollars to sponsor the game precisely because they want access to that huge pool of bodies just waiting to be tossed into conflict zones.
It’s strange that Republicans are constantly paranoid that “The Gays” and “The Liberals” will recruit their children, and yet they don’t seem concerned that the military — an actual organization that actually wants to send their children into harm’s way — is actively infiltrating the entertainment market to brainwash and recruit susceptible youth.