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TOP MUSIC & GAMES STORIES (Jan. 6): Army Spotlights Viddies In Recruitment Center; SD Video Lottery Dilemma; Juke-Pick Fatality

Posted On: 1/6/2009

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U.S. Army Creates $13 Million Arcade As High-Tech Recruiting Station

PHILADELPHIA -- The U.S. Army is operating its first arcade-style recruiting center here in this city's Franklin Mills mall. According to The New York Times, the first-of-its-kind facility -- branded as the Army Experience Center -- opened last August. Officials hope to expand the concept to urban zones nationwide.

The Times said the 14,500-sq.ft., $13 million center is staffed by 22 recruiters. It features an array of combat shooting and sports-themed videogames, playable on home game consoles.

Also featured are three full-scale simulators that replicate Apache Longbow and Black Hawk helicopters and an armed Humvee. Unlike the home games, the simulators are programmed to let players experience a humanitarian aid mission in which they do not come under hostile gunfire.

First Sgt. Randy Jennings said the center's nearly 200 job brochures are designed to show visitors that "there's more to the Army than carrying a gun," according to the Times.

The Experience Center is not the Army's first foray into videogame-based marketing. The service created and released Army-themed home videogames for recruiting and marketing purposes several years ago. The games were highly successful both as software products and as online experiences.

Global VR released a coin-operated videogame version of one such title, America's Army, in 2007 through a partnership with the Army. The game features nonviolent target practice.


South Dakota Lawmakers Call For Tighter Controls On Video Lottery

PIERRE, SD -- Some leading state legislators here say documentation regarding ownership of video lottery terminals and casinos should be made more readily available to government officials. Current regulations keep machine ownership data so highly confidential that even lawmakers cannot easily obtain it.

One newspaper in the state, the Argus Leader, said a lengthy investigation by its staff was required in order to uncover the fact that "several small ownership groups across the state have taken major stakes in the state's larger markets."

The newspaper said it was forced to comb through liquor license records and corporate filings for hundreds of hours to compile its information.

The incoming House leader, Rep.-elect Bernie Hunhoff (Yankton-D), says he wants to change video lottery rules so lawmakers can know who they are regulating. His Republican counterpart said he also supports more openness.

South Dakota legalized operator-run video lottery in 1989. State government now takes 50% of all revenues generated by VLTs. The VLT industry has raised more than $1.5 billion for the state during its nearly two decades of operation.


Jukebox Music Argument Leads To Fatal Bar Fight

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO -- A U.S. Army soldier died on Monday, Jan. 5, three days after being injured in a bar fight over what music should be played on the jukebox in the Tap House, a tavern located near Denver.

Police are investigating the matter as a homicide. Two participants in the fight have been interviewed by authorities but no suspects had been arrested as of Monday, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

The victim, Richard Lopez of Fayetteville, NC, was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Army officials released no details of his rank or service except to say Lopez was a Special Forces soldier on leave.

The fracas began after Lopez and two friends selected a Jimmy Buffet tune (the precise song was not known to police). Once the track began playing on the jukebox, two other patrons criticized the choice. The fight began in the bar, went outside and resulted in Lopez and both his armed forces colleagues being medevaced to a hospital. No weapons were involved. Lopez's two friends were treated for cuts and bruises.