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US Navy Enlists Virtual Reality Video Game for Recruitment Drive

The Navy showed off the project over Memorial Day

Video games, Hollywood, Porn, and now the Navy are using virtual reality to bring in customers, or in this case, recruits.

Navy officials showed off its new VR video game over Memorial Day weekend, with volunteers getting to try out the technology on a decked-out trailer on Long Island’s Jones Beach. The experience straps users into an Oculus Rift headset and sends them down a river on a covert mission to rescue a besieged SEAL team, where the user needs to navigate the boat while his comrades handle the artillery.

“I felt the 360-degree Oculus experience was very much like being part of an engaging high quality video game, with the vibrations of the sub-pac lending an extra dose of realism,” said USA Today’s Edward C. Baig, who got to test the Navy VR. “Oddly though, the game seemed less violent or graphic than some other video games I’ve played.”

The recruitment strategy is working, too, with “leads” doubling in the two months after its VR campaign began. More than 25,000 people have tried the video game so far, with about 20 percent changing their minds from “uninterested” to “interested” after the simulation.

Other military branches have jumped into VR as well, with the US Air Force and British Army experimenting with it as a recruiting tool.

Check out USA Today’s story for a look at the VR experience.