German army angers gamers with ‘tone-deaf’ ads

German army angers gamers with ‘tone-deaf’ ads
Copyright Twitter/Bundeswehr
By Sallyann Nicholls
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The Bundeswehr has sparked a backlash after unveiling posters comparing gaming to real-life conflict for a recruitment campaign.


The slogans are punchy and the graphics gritty: featuring fit, young men clad in combat gear, donning sunglasses, masks and heavy weapons alongside the phrases "Multiplayer at its best" and "Can't get more open-world than that".

But these posters are not selling an action film or video game — they were unveiled this week by Germany’s Bundeswehr (armed forces) to attract new recruits at Gamescom 2018, one of the largest global gaming conventions based in Cologne, Germany.

Yet far from luring queues of fresh young signups, the military have instead offended the gaming community and been accused of striking the wrong tone with their campaign.

“#bundeswehr should not place ads at #Gamescom or any other game event anymore,” complained Twitter user Bernhard Keprt. “War, or ‘preserving peace’ has nothing in common with games! A game is only a game and should entertain. Don’t mix that up!"

Another user, Robert Fietzke, said: “What do the families of the #Bundeswehr people killed by bullets or the families of armed Bundeswehr soldiers say about this #Gamescom advertising?"

“Whitewashing & trivialising killing — just disgusting.”

Fellow Twitter user and gamer, godlesshappy, added: “we are Gamer not Killer. Killing a man or killing a pixel is not the same. [sic]”

Twitter user ♯Οlιver suggests some of his own slogans to rival the Bundeswehr's offering

The posters have also been put up across Cologne. Defending their adverts, a Bundeswehr spokesman told public broadcaster WDR: "Just like other employers, we want to get in touch with young people with an affinity for IT (information technology) and make them aware of career opportunities with the Bundeswehr".

The spokesman added that they wanted young people at Gamescom to think about their future.

Should they "play war or fight for peace," he added.

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