Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced an amendment to ban the US military from using video game streaming sites and platforms like Twitch to recruit young people. The proposed amendment to the House Appropriations bill will have to go through numerous committees and votes before being sent to the President.

“It’s incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms,” said Ocasio-Cortez. 

The amendment came after numerous controversies regarding the military’s use of Twitch for recruitment and the streamers banning many viewers who asked about US War crimes.

US Military Esports

The United States Military established esports teams to lure and recruit young people after experiencing a shortfall of soldiers in 2018. Their goals and purpose were to show how gaming can help soldiers connect to young people and show them a side of soldiers that they may not have expected.

The video streaming platform, Twitch, boasts an average of 17.5 million daily viewers and more than 600 billion minutes of content watched this year. The Army, Navy, and Air Force all have teams that post video game streams online. Only the Marine Corps did not engage in this recruitment tool. Military recruiters believe that they must be visible to the people that they are trying to recruit to do their job. 

However, the streaming ceased after they were reported guilty of a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. They were accused of banning people who asked questions about US war crimes during streaming sessions. The US Army is receiving plenty of criticism, and things could get even worse.

‘War is not a game’

Ocasio-Cortez believes that using video games to recruit young people into the war machine is an unacceptable approach. “War is not a game,” she said. “And the Marine Corps’ decision not to engage in this recruiting tool should be a clear signal to the other branches of the military to cease this practice entirely.” The Marine Corps decided not to join the practice because the brand and issues associated with combat are way too dangerous to be just “gamified” in a responsible manner. 

Ocasio-Cortez was also outraged by the false advertisement strategy the military used to recruit young people. The Army, Navy, and Air Force’s Twitch channels and esports teams drew the viewers’ attention by telling the people watching the streams to click on a chat popup promoting a giveaway for an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller and $200. But when clicked the link to enter, it merely directed them to an army recruitment form.

Her measure was filed on July 22, and the amendment is to prohibit the use of funds for recruitment on any video gaming or esports platform. It would also prevent the military from using funds on Twitch or any gaming live stream platform.

However, the amendment can not be done very soon as it takes a lot of steps to become a law. It must first pass the House Appropriations Committee on Rules. Then it would advance through multiple committees and the Full House in order to move on to the Senate and, finally, the President’s desk.