For military, video games are not only a fun way to unwind during downtime, they can provide much-needed stress relief and are an opportunity to connect with friends and family.
For these reasons, United Service Organizations (USO) has focused part of its mission on providing military members with opportunities to connect and relax with video games. Many of these games require players to establish collaborative relationships with other players, during which service members can discuss challenges in their lives beyond the screen.
In addition to offering dedicated gaming areas at a growing number of USO Centers, the nonprofit organizes gaming events, including the “Operation Play it Forward” Streamathon, which took place during Alumni Day. fighters on the USO’s Twitch channel, twitch.tv/theuso. Sponsored by USAA, Pratt and Whitney, and GEICO Military, the second annual Streamathon was a 72-hour gaming experience, tripling 2020’s 24-hour event.
Service members from around the world were joined by family, friends and special guests, including USO Game Ambassadors, entertainers and celebrities like Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Juju Smith-Schuster and the Twitch streamer Tfue. As part of the Streamathon, “Battle of the Branches,” presented by GEICO Military, featured service members teaming up with top players to compete in “Call of Duty: Warzone.”
“Members of the military community, military supporters, celebrities and other gamers connected with us for 72 hours of exciting gameplay with some of today’s most popular video games and creators,” said Callum Fletcher, director of global game operations for the USO. .
In recent years, the emergence of platforms such as Twitch and Discord has allowed service members to connect with family and friends while deployed or serving in geographically remote locations.
Since launching its gaming program, the USO has hosted 90 events featuring USO Gaming Ambassadors, celebrity engagements and tournaments. Additionally, the organization plans to open more gaming centers in the coming months. With support from Razer, gaming centers will soon be well-equipped at Marine Corps Base Quantico and Eglin Air Force Base.
To learn more about the evolution of the USO gaming program, visit uso.org/gaming. For more information on USO entertainment programs, visit USO.org/MVP. To join the USO Discord, go to discord.gg/theuso.
“Gaming provides the military community with opportunities for stress relief and entertainment,” Fletcher says. “And thanks to new technologies, it also provides a connection to loved ones, civilians, veterans and the wider gaming community.”