"This summer, Matt and Doug Stanbro, two brothers from Chelsea, Ala., traded in their game controllers for M-16 rifles," reports Patrik Jonsson. "They're two of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American teenagers inspired by a 'shoot'em-up' video game to join the Army." The "America's Army" game, first released in 1992, "is proving a potent way to communicate military values directly to the messy bedrooms where teens hang out. ... In a recent informal survey of recruits at Fort Benning, Ga., which was conducted by the Army's video-game development team, about 60 percent of recruits said they've played 'America's Army' more than five times a week. Four out of 100 said they'd joined the Army specifically because of the game. Nationwide, the game counts some 7.5 milion registered users." While Army officials say "a range of recruitment tweaks - including easing up on the tattoo policy and up to $40,000 signing bonuses - have played a role" in boosting 2006 recruitment numbers, "few other ideas have been as effective in galvanizing potential recruits as 'America's Army.'"
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