Army using video games to draw new Colorado recruits

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Army recruitment has taken on an all-new look and feel when it comes to targeting Generation Z.

On Friday night, dozens of people participated a "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" release party hosted by the Army and the LocalHost Arena in Lakewood.

"Honestly, I think it really impacted a lot. It’s pretty cool that they decided to do games and everything, and also talk to you about different types of Army things you can do,” said high school student Brooklyn Niemi.

The Army has started hosting gaming events in hopes of turning some gamers into soldiers.

“It’s more modern,” said Ben Pavlovic, after testing out the new game. “You go to a place where there’s a lot of younger people, so it’s a more useful way for them to meet potential prospects.”

Army recruitment numbers have dropped roughly 15% in the region that covers Colorado, Nebraska and part of Wyoming.

“This opens up even more doors for us to actually reach out to the young generation,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Cruz.

The Army is looking to recruit about 2,000 soldiers in 2020 from the region.

In the past, they’ve had to rely on cold calling — but say the new strategy is a game-changer.

“Doing the esports — we’re on the microphone, we have headphones, we’re talking to them, we’re playing sports. And they say, ‘hey, who is this on the other side?’ And I say, 'Sgt. 1st Class, United States Army,' and it just sparks up an interest from that point,” said Cruz.

One of their goals is to show the younger generation the similarities between their duties in the video game and duties in the Army.

“The same decisions that they make — especially for the esports — is the same kind of decision making you’ll be having to do in the Army," Cruz said.

The Army is has a goal of having 500,000 active-duty soldiers by 2029.

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