The reality is that there is still a slight stigma associated with the sedentary lifestyle of video gamers, particularly as it relates to eating habits and the lack of physical exercise. However, there has been a push for change as players (both casual and professional) along with content creators and influencers look to create healthier lifestyles. But sometimes help is hard to find, it’s expensive to hire a personal trainer, and let’s be honest–sometimes the willpower just isn’t there. So what do you do to get motivated? Well, in the case of four game-playing influencers, you call in the marines. yeah, those marines, The United States Marines.
Since last December, the U.S. Marine Corps has initiated a program that followed and helped prepare four popular and skilled gamers in their quest and willingness to win real-life battles, the likes of which you and I as civilians face in our everyday lives, not battles as the Marines know it. However, there are some parallels between how we as civilians face our battles and that of the Marines, such as discipline and motivation. To that end, the U.S. Marine Corps and these four influencers got together in order to develop a plan to face the challenges and give them a glimpse into what Marines may face in combat situations.
Briana White, Melonie Mac, WhosChaos (real name unknown), and TheWarOwl (real name unknown) volunteered for the video series, “Inside the Battle: Battle Tactics” whose program would test the physical and mental mettle of these four streamers as it related to improving each one’s strength and conditioning while teaching them a little of what life is like inside their branch of service.
And just how did this all happen? The four went to Marine Corps Base Quantico after 100 days of training in preparation for that and a new ultimate challenge: leading and communicating with Marines in simulated combat.
This initiative by the Marine Corps is part of its pivot away from Television and OTT to digital campaigns that have proven to have the age demographic United States Military branches are looking for. In fact, as reported by The Esports Observer in December of 2019, the Navy–of which the Marines have been a part of since 1834–stated that it would be spending 97% of its advertising budget online. The Navy did its own study finding that there is a large demographic of people between the ages of 17 and 28 that consume digital content.
As it stands, the Marines are facing new challenges in regard to communicating what they stand for As a non-endemic entity having just joined the gaming and esports space, these types of initiatives look to resonate with young people and educate those that may want to pursue a military career or serve in the military as a means to other career paths.
“This campaign sees the U.S. Marines taking a distinct and deliberate approach to contrast, rather than compare, the battles faced by Marines and those of gamers,” Capt. Michael Maggitti, director, esports & gaming at Marine Corps Recruiting told The Esports Observer, “While there are many skill sets shared between the two communities which have been highlighted by other services to date, our focus was instead on testing the physical and mental mettle of the gamers to determine if they exhibit the willingness and drive to win the types of battles Marines face each and every day in service to our nation.”
During “Inside the Battle: Battle Tactics,” the four streamers were tested first to create a baseline metric for their current fitness level. For the next 100 days, while receiving some guidance but no personal training, the four trained hard as they knew they would be heading to Marine Corps Base Quantico for a taste of how the U.S. Marines train. However, new challenges were thrown at the four along the way, including commanding a squad of Marines in a simulated combat situation. The journey would be captured and shared on video through their own channels and more.
“I was excited. I was like, ‘Sign me up.’ They didn’t give us a whole lot of information, they wanted to surprise us,” said Melonie Mac, a popular Twitch and YouTube streamer. “I didn’t even know for sure what I was getting into.”
It didn’t take long for her to figure it out.
“I knew when we first got there for the initial event I would be testing to see where I’m at physically, which wasn’t very good,” she said. “I’m a gamer who just sits at my desk all the time. And since that’s my work to just a very sedentary life. They just tested us on what we could do with pull-ups, a mile and a half run, some pushups and planks. I did pretty terribly.”
TheWarOwl, who plays games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and other squad-based shooters, had a very similar first experience.
“It kicked my butt. In my head I thought, ‘Okay, so we’re going to have mentors, they’re going to teach us stuff. And then we’re going to do this again and see how much better we got,’” he said. “I thought that was going to be it, but they surprised us with a whole other adventure far beyond that.”
TheWarOwl and Melonie Mac would eventually meet up with Briana White, a streamer, actress and voice-over artist, and WhoseChaos, a streamer, gamer, and content creator, for what would be both exciting and scary. The four would learn how the Marines train some of its squads and would take part in the drills and finally a simulated battle where they would learn how to lead, react, and think tactically. All skills that can translate to their everyday lives.
“When she went to Quantico it was definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Mac. “I’ll never forget it.”
From there she describes the feeling of accomplishment and how it felt being taught about some of the things actual Marines do.
“Seeing how much we improved on all the physical stuff was promising. After that we went to the firing range and trained us with live rounds and we did target practice,” she said. “It was the days after where it really got intense as we started training for assault runs. That was exciting, but it’s also scary. I can’t even imagine in real life what that’s like, because just even training, it was pretty scary, but we had all this gear on and then we had our gun on us at all times.”
TheWarOwl also got a look into taking on the role of a squad leader, giving orders, and developing tactics to succeed in a mission format. It wasn’t easy.
“I think the focus was about the tactics of what Marines do when specifically doing training exercises that involved us taking on the role of a squad leader and having a leadership position while planning things and creating tactics,” he said. “So a lot of it came down to the mentality, the different skills that they use and that they learn. There’s a lot of information to learn. It wasn’t just like doing pushups. We had, there were whiteboards with information on them that we were trying to memorize really quickly. I definitely got a sense of the seriousness of what we were learning and what we were doing.”
The world is changing and evolving to a new age digital world and the branches of the U.S. military are figuring this out quickly. Commercials abound showing young men and women working from stations controlling drones from satellites taking aim at targets on a screen. In this regard, a program like this works because it is familiar and somewhat game-like. It’s when these same people get on the ground in an up-close-and-personal real-world situation with bullets flying and people getting injured that it’s tough to gauge if being good at games really translates to being a good soldier.
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