The U.S. Air Force first began talking about a multipurpose virtual world, MyBase, back in February. The goals of the virtual world would be to recruit and inform civilians, train cadets, and help active airmen prepare for specific missions and ongoing projects. “MyBase is a set of regions dedicated to sharing the history and learning about the U.S. Air Force,” explains the sim. While the exhibits are interactive and educational, they’re definitely geared more at public outreach than internal training. Visitors can fly a virtual P51C Mustang, try a challenge course and shooting range, listen to Air Force band music, and see what military life is like. While there were automated bots on the site, no actual humans were present. There is an option for visitors, if interested, to access a website to talk to a recruiter about an Air Force career.
The U.S. Army will open up two islands in Second Life in the next 30-45 days aimed at recruiting new soldiers. This was announced at the Army Science Conference this week, which has a heavy focus on immersive technologies. The project sounds similar to the Air Force’s MyBase, which opened in Second Life yesterday. Users will find a welcome center with information and links to contact a recruiter on one island and military-themed activities like rappelling, shooting, and parachuting on the other. Completing the activities will earn users points toward free Army-branded virtual goods. Interestingly, Gen. William S. Wallace, the commander of the U.S. Army TRADOC, said that social networking has been “oversold”. Regardless, the Army remains interested as, according to Wallace, “one of the age groups of which there’s about 4MM young people that routinely interface in Second Life is the age group of the young people who we’re trying to encourage to join the military.”
A new study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project claims that a slim majority of adults in the United States now play video games, with preferred platform choices being stratified by age group. Drawing from data collected in surveys during 2007 and 2008, Pew claims that 53 percent of Americans age 18 or older play games on some kind of device — including personal computers, game consoles, and handheld devices. As a footnote, despite 9 percent of gamers (and 21 percent of teen gamers) claiming experience playing MMOs, a mere 2 percent of gamers reported entering virtual worlds like Second Life.