A few American soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have had an unusual mission lately -- they are starring in a video game for the U.S. Army.
The U.S. Army has created, and is marketing, the computer game 'America's Army.' And the Army claims that since it first introduced the game in 2002 it has had more than 7.5 million users. The game is part entertainment, part public relations, and also serves as a recruitment tool.
The newest version is called 'America's Army: Real Heroes.' The action game takes players from training, into battle with various tactical missions to accomplish. It includes the digital likenesses of eight actual soldiers recognized for heroic action in Iraq or Afghanistan.
One of them is Sergeant Tommy Reiman. “Sergeant Tommy Reiman, Echo, 51st infantry long range surveillance. I'm from Independence, Kentucky,” we hear in the game.
He once played with action figures himself. Now he is one. "You know as a kid I played with lots of G.I. Joes and action figures, and growing up with Nintendo, Super Nintendo, [and then] Play Station came out and now for me to be in the video game -- that is pretty awesome."
Sergeant Rieman has a silver star for having led fellow soldiers to safety after an ambush outside Baghdad.
He also has a son. "You know, he's going to be in first grade for show and tell and saying, ‘Look at my dad. He was an action figure.’ You know for me, that's pretty awesome."
The U.S. Army says production and development costs for the video game program were between $6 and $8 million.
"We just want to educate people in what we do. We don't want to pull you off and say you need to join the army. We just want to educate everybody out there for their options for what the Army has to offer."
The majority of users are male,16 to18 years old. And the Army says it hopes its 'Real Heroes' will inspire young adults to explore the values of the more than 450,000 men and women serving in the U.S. Army.