Do you have what it takes to win the Airman Challenge?
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas - The Air Force Recruiting Service has developed a new, free on-line video game interface to introduce future Airmen – and a generation of gamers already in Air Force Blue – to Air Force mission concepts, tactics and strategies through arcade-style gameplay. Part puzzles, part tests of Air Force knowledge as to how both peacetime and combat missions are developed, deployed and delivered, the game’s appeal is expected to go beyond mere marketing. The Airman Challenge game focuses on the spirit of adventure that attracts people to service – and reminds those currently serving of the bigger scope of the missions today’s Airmen support everyday worldwide.
“The game is meant to appeal to the Airmen of Tomorrow, giving them a perspective on the many ways in which the modern Air Force is protecting our nation and our coalition partners,” said Col. Marcus Johnson, Air Force Recruiting Service’s Chief of Strategic Marketing Division. “Today’s video games are more evolved than the push-button, Space Invaders-type platforms of yesterday. The Airmen Challenge video game is an immersive experience that offers an interface where advanced technology and the human meet as entertainment. Because the Air Force Recruiting Service is all about finding the next generation of Airmen, we sought out gamewriters to develop a game that could act as a medium to attract tech-fluent recruits. Airman Challenge demonstrates to future Airmen how their skills benefit the Air Force, while also showing that the Air Force has an interest in developing their skills further. It’s a win-win for both the Air Force and today’s gamers.”
Combining demands for weighted decisions and situational awareness in scenarios ripped from the headlines, the Airman Challenge video game interface is internet-based and is free for all, available at the Recruiting Service’s website, www.airforce.com. The game went on-line Oct 15, and has already attracted a large number of gamers. While intended to appeal to the 18-24 demographic, the game also has appeal to Airmen already serving. Johnson said the gamewriters communicated with Air Force professionals across many career fields to keep the language, equipment and situations completely accurate.
“That sense of the genuine, in turn, allows Airman Challenge to take on broader meanings for the Airmen already serving,” Johnson said. “Someone once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Can you imagine what you do everyday becoming the basis of a video game that your own children could play? Many future Airmen come from families that have been Air Force Blue for generations. Airman Challenge can serve as a bridge between a parent’s memories and a future enlistment.”
The Art of the Game
Most gamers will tell you that what matters most in a video game is the playability of the game. Identity and social nuances are just icing on the virtual cake. And because Airman Challenge is an on-line video game, the ability of the interface to support multiple players at the same time is a test to the skill of the gamewriters, Blockdot. According to Kate Hansen, the Airman Challenge project lead for GSD&M (the contractors who coordinated the video game on behalf of AFRS), the website has been load-balanced and load-tested in anticipation of heavy traffic. Blockdot is projecting that approximately 110,000 gamers will play Airman Challenge in a six-month period.
“The game was built using Flash software, so there should not be any memory issues regarding content load based on the delivery system,” Hansen said. “For operating systems, Airman Challenge is supported on Windows 7 and up as well as OS 10.6 and up. Older machines with older operating systems usually have older graphics and processing chips, which can complicate gameplay. It’s standard practice especially with this type of application to run on operating systems that go back only a few years. Flash was ideal because it allows animation, music, sound effects and web services to work fast enough to make gameplay a satisfying experience.”
Hansen said the average user is expected to play the game for between 20 and 30 minutes, during which time a gamer can play two or three missions, but the game currently has 11 missions already “live” and that the game can accommodate additional missions as well as any adjustments and enhancements. In early Spring 2013, GSD&M, Blockdot and AFRS will discuss the next phase for Airman Challenge (2.0), which could include enhancing gameplay “nuance” and making the game mobile as well as adding more missions. As experience points are earned through successful missions, gamers rise in the ranks from Airman 1st Class up to Brigadier General, giving a sense of achievement that contributes to online gaming enjoyment. Users can also use either their Facebook profile picture or a selection of avatars to identify themselves in the game.
“Airman Challenge cannot be played as an app through the Facebook interface at this time, but users can automatically — and manually — share various achievements from the game via Facebook Connect when they sign in with their Facebook account. We are already seeing a high level of activity via Facebook Share. And because there is a leaderboard in place for Airman Challenge, there is that element of competitiveness around which gaming communities develop. We already have 73 highest-scoring “Brigadier Generals” with impressive experience points in place.”
For more information about the Airman Challenge online game or for questions about Air Force careers, contact your local Air Force recruiter. Recruiter contact information is available by calling 1-800-423-USAF (8723) or by visiting the Recruiter Locator link on the official Air Force recruiting website at www.airforce.com.Airmen of Tomorrow Take the “Challenge” in New On-line Video Game,