FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The U.S. Army debuted its Esports gaming trailer at the Salt Lake Gaming Con in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 27-29.
The trailer, which took about ten months to construct and supports the U.S. Army Recruiting Command's Esports initiative, is designed to boost recruiting efforts and connect the American public with the Army.
"This is cool! It's one of the best gaming trailers I have ever seen in my life," said Jessica Evans, video gamer and event spectator.
The Salt Lake Gaming Con is the sixth-largest gaming convention in the country and draws roughly 20,000 attendees. Hundreds of spectators, some dressed as their favorite video game character, flocked to the Esports trailer equipped with eight gaming chairs, multiple screen monitors both on the inside and outside, and a variety of gaming consoles.
The crowed showed enthusiasm as they waited to tour the trailer and watched other gamers challenge the Esports team members to a round of "Splitgate."
"I was beaming with excitement and I am even more excited and thrilled now that I had the opportunity to, not only walk through the trailer, but play with some awesome Soldiers," Evans said. "This trailer will definitely help in getting others to join the Army and not just because of the gaming aspect, but the one-on-one interaction with awesome Soldiers who are not only interested in gaming, but sharing their Army story with you -- I'm definitely sold."
While spectators waited in line to enter the trailer, recruiters from the Salt Lake City Recruiting Battalion and members of the U.S. Army Esports team engaged the crowd, discussing how the Army offers over 150 jobs, as well as the benefits and opportunities of military service.
"Joining the Army is one of the best decisions anyone can make -- it is such a great stepping stone," said Sgt. Nicole Ortiz, an Information Technology Specialist and member of the U.S. Army Esports team. "You don't have to make it a career, just the few years you spend in. You'll have the opportunity to attend school while you're working and gaining experience."
The U.S. Army Esports team, based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, consists of 16 Soldiers from various military occupational specialties. Each team member specializes in a different video game.
However, competing in various gaming tournaments across the country is not the team's only mission. They also serve as recruiting liaisons who tell their Army story and encourage people to consider Army service.
"The Army is not just about shooting weapons and going to war. It's a huge misconception that's out there, and we're here to share and tell others about the awesome opportunities," Ortiz said.
Even though the Army will have to wait to see what impact this initiative has on recruiting, it was very clear, at least for one person, this experience will leave a lasting, positive impression of the U.S. Army.
"This is every avid video game player's dream and it is definitely an experience I will never forget," Evans said.