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About America's Army

As the following four papers will examine the relationship between inclusion, exclusion and America's Army, a brief overview of the game itself may be in place. America's Army can be categorized as a First Person Shooter (FPS). In his paper, Sean pays attention to the genre of the FPS, and he summarizes the FPS as a game where "you shared the viewpoint of your avatar (first person point of view) and you needed to eliminate the enemies of that avatar (shooting the enemy)". ()

So how does one play a game in America's Army: Operations? First of all, you have to complete a virtual military training program, which consists of training in different kinds of weapons and tactics. This training is obligatory to play the game, and this is done to make sure that every player has an amount of skill in playing AA:O. After completing the training, you can go online and play the actual game. That's right: the game is played over a network, and over a network only. If you don't have access to the Internet or some other network, America's Army is a waste of time.
In short, the game goes like this: there are two teams, Axis and Allies, who fight against each other. One team of players defends some strategic point for instance, while the other team tries to take it in. The settings in which these battles take place are realistic: the strategic point could be a factory with small corridors, or an old bridge in a wide landscape.
The ways in which the battles take place are also quite realistic: A player is resembled after the image of an American soldier, including existing weapons and camouflage clothing. One can chose from different weapons to engage the enemy with, such as a machinegun, a handgun or grenades. Although the goal of each game is to defend something, or steal something, or take some place in, this is always accomplished by killing your opponents. If you get killed in a game, it is game over and you will have to wait until the current game is over (games usually take no longer than fifteen minutes).
One can score points (or 'honor' as it is called in America's Army) by killing opponents and completing objectives. Remarkably, one can also actually lose points by killing teammates.

It is obvious that the American army wanted to make a very realistic game. But there is one quite amusing flaw in America's Army: Operations. The army opposed to the fact that players could play with terrorists, so the avatar of every player is an American soldier. However, this implied that in every game two teams of American soldiers would try to kill each other. This was unacceptable. The solution: players always see themselves and their teammates as American soldiers and their opponents as terrorists. But their opponents did so too. If, in the game, you encounter a terrorist, he sees himself as an American soldier and you as a terrorist. Jeroen writes more about this in his article. ()

The following images are some screenshots of America's Army: Operations.

Hopefully this overview of America's Army helps you to understand the game itself. For more information you can visit their official homepage ().

© 2003
Sean Storey, Justin Beck, Ruud Oud, Jeroen Steeman
Utrecht University