If you’ve ever looked for a way to blow off some steam after a long day or week of military training and PT, you know online or console gaming can be a fun and interactive way to do it. A movie or night out can help you relax, but gaming fits a perfect middle ground. You’re not just zoning out, but you’re not being fully active, either.
Better yet, thanks to multiplayer gaming online or through your console network, you can play with friends and family across the globe. No matter where you’re stationed, including at many overseas deployed locations, a version of that network is probably available.
That’s a big change from even 10 years ago. And because the Pentagon knows how popular gaming is among troops, many bases even have gaming lounges and esports platforms and teams. For example, the Warrior Zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska offers troops free gaming consoles, a wide collection of games and organized tournaments. And in early 2022, the USO opened a free gaming center on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
5 Top Games for Military Members
Just like movies and other entertainment preferences, which games are popular among troops can vary by the day. But it’s pretty clear which games or game franchises stay at the top of service member lists, no matter what.
Originally introduced in 2001, first-person shooter game Halo has developed into a long-lasting franchise with a huge, enduring fan base in and out of the military community. It’s also become a favorite among esports teams worldwide. The first-ever military esports championship held in 2022 was centered around “Halo Infinite."
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Also known as CS:GO, this multiplayer tactical first-person shooter game first debuted in 2012 and is just one in the broader Counter Strike series. The full game is free with paid upgrades, and it can be played on a personal computer or a variety of consoles.
Call of Duty: Warzone.
Part of the long-popular Call of Duty franchise, this battle royale-style game was first released in 2020. It joins a parade of other Call of Duty games and can include up to 150 players in a single match. The U.S. Army even previously sponsored the professional Call of Duty esports league.
This award-winning simulation game first debuted in 2012 and includes tanks, aircraft, warships and equipment from across countries and generations of military use. The multiplayer online game makes play as real world as possible. It’s so real world, in fact, that military members have gotten in trouble for accidentally leaking to War Thunder gaming forums military secrets about current weapons.
They may not want to admit it, but service members still play and love Fortnite, according to some troops who spoke with Military.com. Originally released in 2017, this battle royale-style game is available for a variety of consoles and has spawned (pun intended) its own subculture.
Gaming as a Military Job
Of course, gaming in the military isn’t just for off-duty hours. The Army and Navy have soldiers and sailors assigned to their esports teams as full-time jobs. For the Army, 11 soldiers compete full time and 200 more are registered to compete, if needed, so long as their participation doesn’t conflict with their other duties, according to the Defense Department. And the Navy’s team, known as Goats & Glory, has 12 sailors who compete over the year, the DoD said, with about 26 other sailors ready to dive-in as needed.
In the Air Force, esports isn’t a full-time assignment, but that doesn’t stop the service from dominating the field. Also wrapping in Space Force Guardians to their team, the Air Force won the Pentagon’s first-ever Armed Forces Esports Championship in 2022.
The service is also home to the Air Force Gaming group, which is managed by the Air Force Services Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. With more than 25,000 gamers from across the active-duty Air Force, Space Force, Air Force civilian employees and Air Guard and Reserve, the group offers a way for those service members to connect worldwide. Overall, 86% of airmen and guardians between the ages of 18 and 34 identify as gamers, the center says.
Navy Federal Credit Union has been part of the military community for over 90 years and cares about you and your interests. Video games are just one of the ways they strive to understand the military and veteran communities. You can trust them in all aspects of your life.
Navy Federal Credit Union, they know the ins and outs of your unique financial needs.