We followed the US Army Esports Team as it recruited teenage gamers

  • The US Army has a 16-member esports team that livestreams video games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Fortnite on Twitch.
  • The Army uses the esports team to recruit young gamers into joining the military branch, and has been touted as the Army’s best recruitment tool as traditional methods have failed.
  • But the esports team has faced criticism for targeting young teenagers as well as for banning Twitch users who bring up issues like US war crimes.
  • We followed members of the esports team as they recruited gamers at a popular video game convention in San Antonio in January.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Weekly on Facebook.

At a national video game convention in San Antonio, a team of gamers is showcasing the benefits of a military career to teenagers.

They’re members of the Army’s official esports team, a group of video game players who livestream games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Fortnite around the clock in hopes of recruiting other gamers into the military.

The team of 16 gamers — chosen from a pool of 6,500 applicants — has a dedicated building with state-of-the-art equipment at the Fort Knox Army base. Although they previously served in other roles in the Army, gaming is now their full-time job.

In January, the team attended the Pax South convention in San Antonio, one of the world’s top gaming expos, to interact with fellow gaming enthusiasts.

“A massive convention like this, we’ll do several thousand leads over the course of a long weekend,” Lt. Col. Kirk Duncan of the esports team said. “The numbers are really staggering.”

At this convention, the team attracted interest from gamers like 18-year-old high school senior Argelio Arto Guajardo.

“It makes me want to join the Army because of the esports team,” Guajardo said. “It’s every gamer’s dream to join a pro team, win, make new friends along the way. I’m hoping to get a good education there, good healthcare, pay the bills and that stuff,” said Argelio Artie Guajardo.

But Guajardo adds that he would only join the army as a last resort.

“Oh yeah, I’m scared,” he said. “I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to blow up. It’s kind of scary to lose a leg or a limb.”

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The esports team visits video game conventions like Pax South in San Antonio to interact and recruit gaming enthusiasts into the military.

Franck Rabel for Business Insider Today

The esports team is streaming again after a five-week, self-imposed “pause” to review internal policy. The team faced heavy criticism in July when it started banning users who asked about US war crimes on its Twitch chat, a move some legal experts argued violated the users’ First Amendment rights.

Earlier this year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced an amendment that would prevent the military…

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