Recently, the British Army unveiled an all-new Fortnite experience named ‘Operation: Belong’. It surfaced during a promotion for an event that will take place on January 24, with influencers and content creators going head-to-head on a map that some are calling a ‘thinly veiled recruitment tool’.
In Operation: Belong, players are invited to ‘conquer obstacles’, ‘apply your training’, and ‘work as one’. There’s a glaring statement that underlines Operation: Belong as something of a tagline: ‘You belong here’. With the emergence of this custom Fortnite map – which smacks of America’s Army – many users on social media have slammed the British Army for ‘targeting kids’ in their recruitment efforts.
You Belong Here.
It’s important to stress that the British Army isn’t the first organisation to use Fortnite as a marketing or promotional tool, and it certainly won’t be the last. With the power of the UEFN and Fortnite’s unparalleled creative opportunities, countless brands and companies have found themselves creating interactive, engaging experiences in the game that’s played by tens of millions of players worldwide every single day.
However, the key concern here is that it looks as though Operation: Belong is something of a recruitment effort – or at least a targeted attempt to expose young players to ‘what it means to be’ a soldier in the British Army.
There’s a disclaimer that stresses the event – which will feature the likes of Elz the Witch and Yung Filly – is ‘age-gated to users 18+’, but as many of us know, that means very little on platforms like Twitch.
These days, the British Army is a prolific force in gaming and esports. It’s a familiar face at conventions around the country and it operates an esports team that competes in various titles. For many, it’s nothing more than an attempt to ‘get ’em young’, but for others, it’s a sincere attempt to educate youngsters and let them know about enrolling in the military in a way that relates to them as gamers.
Let’s be honest, this was never going to go down well. Ultimately, there’s a chance that the custom map won’t be accepted by Epic Games, as there’s a clear term in the content guidelines that stresses ‘commercial content and sponsorships must not promote enrollment in the military.’ So, there’s that.
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