It’s a running joke between my husband and his dad. One summer, probably after spending too many nice days in the basement playing video games, his dad quipped, “You can’t make a living playing video games!”

Fast forward a few years after college and his masters program, while working for a defense contractor that sent him to the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), organized by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), he called his dad and said, “Hey Dad, remember when you said I couldn’t make a living playing video games? Let me tell you about what I’m doing right now…”

While his everyday work doesn’t look like gaming central, video games within the DoD are more popular than people think. Not everyone from younger generations grew up playing video games, but the reality is that many have, increasing their comfort levels with simulation and gaming training efforts. Video games win over live training events because they save money and time. They can also save lives. Game-based training is also much more interactive than reading a manual or mindlessly clicking through computer-based training modules, also known as powerpoint slides on steroids. If only the federal government had ways to upgrade its training capabilities too.

PS5 and X BOX Series X Release

Gamers get a boost this week with the Playstation 5 and the XBox Series X releasing to the world. While Sony and Microsoft fans may argue over which console is better or has more power, most agree that it comes down to which one offers better games. While the argument could be made for either console, given the game option availability for both, the consoles are hard to find at this point. So, you may have to wait a bit for the dust to settle to make your choice. Of course, if you want to check out America’s Army, you’ll have to snag a Playstation to play it.

ESports and the Military

The U.S. Army has another option for gamers – eSports. Members from the Regular Army and the Army Reserves represent the Army in competitions and events. Soldiers have wanted a chance to represent the Army in competitive gaming, showcasing how the video gaming world not only connects the Army to future talent, but it also provides a critical thinking skills training ground. The Army’s competitors travel to different events with an eye towards winning and creating awareness about the opportunities that the Army provides.

Serious Gaming

While games have a fun aspect to them, they also play a key role in building our military’s readiness. The term that’s a bit of an oxymoron – “serious games” sums up the role that games within the military fulfill. This component of education and training is critical in reaching a generation that has grown up with a controller in their hands. While human interaction is important, the gaming capabilities of today incorporate so much more than the options available 20 years ago. Who knew that all that time playing Duck Hunt or Call of Duty might pay off later? But that’s exactly what’s happening for many soldiers. For some, that means that their skills are being used representing the Army with eSports, but for the rest, it means effective training that enhances critical thinking and decision making skills.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.