The most requested video game among US service members and vets isn’t what you’d expect


VIDEO: The head of Air Force Combat Command lost a video game dogfight to his son

A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).

But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.

Which specific games, you might ask? According to OSD CEO and executive director Glenn Banton, the most requested video game among U.S. service members and veterans is … FIFA?

"[It's] the oddest thing," Banton said. "You'd think Madden would be their sports game."

According to Banton, the Madden series of football games actually came in second while immersive role-playing games like Skyrim, Fallout and Witcher 3 came in third.

By clocking in at fourth place, first-person shooters such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Destiny, Halo and Gears of War don't even get a podium spot. Binging up the rear in fifth place are party games like the racing game SpeedRunners and the melee brawler Gang Beasts.

Banton said that this list was drawn from 4,000 to 5,000 OSD requests made from units that represent at least 500,000 U.S. service members around the world. And according to Banton, some of the game developers he works with are surprised to hear that troops don't just want to blow stuff up when they play games (at least not all the time).

"They asked, 'why would someone in the military want to play Madden?'" Banton recalled one developer saying. "And I was like 'what a weird question.'"

Pushing back on the Call of Duty stereotype is part of Banton's mission as he works with developers to sign up for the Supply Drop program and OSD's digital distribution platform Games to Grunts, which offers free access keys for a wide range of Steam games for service members and vets to enjoy.

Games to Grunts only has a limited number of access keys for each game, but OSD works with developers and publishers to continually populate its inventory with new games.

But while video games may be selling like hotcakes, Banton said OSD distributes four times as many board games. And that's not unsurprising: All you need for board games is a flat surface and time, he said, whereas video games might be limited by access to consoles, controllers, and decent internet in a unit's given location.

"Additionally, when we're supplying entire rec centers or overseas USO facilities seeing thousands of troops a month we might send 20-30 video games and 100 table top games," said the CEO.

At the moment, the most requested tabletop game is Disgruntled Decks (the military version of Cards Against Humanity), Banton said, due to OSD's partnership with Disgruntled Decks LLC.

Will free video games and board games alone make the world a better place for troops and vets? Well, yes. But Banton hopes the games will connect troops with some of OSD's more substantial offerings, such as professional development classes, community service programs and social events like workouts, hikes, and tailgates.

Banton hopes Games to Grunts can serve as a gateway to help connect troops and vets to those in-person support networks promoted by OSD. Eventually, 18-year-old enlisted kids downloading Tekken 7 off of Games to Grunts will get out of the military, he said, and when that happens, they'll certainly need mentorship and community to thrive in the civilian world.

"It's all about connecting people," Banton said. "Society and culture as a whole requires real, physically proximate relationships in order to have good mental health and wellness. I'm seeing that grow more and more in vet spaces."

The Space Force has a name tape now


The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.

In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.

Read More

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.

With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.

Read More

The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Read More

Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.

The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.

Read More

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.

Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.

The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.

Read More