Steven R. July 23, 2020
The US Army’s controversial Twitch channel is looking to soon be shuttered.
After questions began swirling about the US Army Esports team running fake giveaways and other aggressive moderation practices, the army is in full retreat from the streaming service. According to a report from Rod “Slasher” Breslau, this extends across multiple social profiles and marks the cancellation of some of the Army’s activations on Twitch:
While the US Army is set to reel in its social media work, this does not mark the end of its efforts in esports and gaming in general. The US Army, and other branches of the United States military, are still maintaining partnerships and sponsorships with multiple gaming entities.
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The move follows a surge of criticism regarding a series of supposed giveaways for Xbox One Elite Series controllers hosted on the US Army Esports’ Twitch channel. The giveaways involved signing recruitment forms on the Army’s official website with no mention of the actual contest or prizes.
It is unclear whether the giveaway was bogus, but the controversy inspired a larger conversation about the military’s growing presence in esports. The armed forces have long been accused of predatory recruitment practices that target youths, particularly those from underprivileged communities. The US Army, Navy, and Air Force have spotted the realm of gaming as potentially fertile territory for recruitment given its young demographic, which has seen partnerships with various entities in gaming and esports including Twitch, Discord, ESL, Cloud9, and more.
AOC proposes end to US Army using Twitch to recruit
Questions regarding the ethics, and even the constitutionality of the US Army’s presence on Twitch, began circulating when the controversy began and it didn’t take long for the topic to reach congress.
New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added an amendment to a recent budgetary bill that would expressly forbid the military’s ability from using appropriated funds to recruit through Twitch or other similar platforms.
“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used by any of the Armed Forces to maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, esports, or live-streaming platform,” the amendment reads.
The military has been making aggressive maneuvers in gaming since 2002 with its launch of free-to-play first-person shooter America’s Army. Even if they can’t directly court gamers on Twitch, it’s unlikely that the armed forces will completely withdraw from the industry.