U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Venice Beach, CA. USA. Dec. 21, 2019. Image: Ted Soqui/SIPA USA
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) plans to file a measure that would prevent the military from using video games and esports as military recruitment tools. A draft amendment filed on July 22 to the House Appropriations bill would prevent the military from using funds appropriated by the bill to “maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, e-sports, or live-streaming platform.”
The House Appropriations bill is an early step in setting the Pentagon’s budget and there’s no guarantee Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment will survive the lengthy political process. First, the House Appropriations Committee on Rules has to meet to decide which pending amendments will go forward. Its next meeting is set for the week of July 27.The House writes one version of the budget that has to go through multiple committees before being voted on by the entire House. And that’s before the Senate gets involved. The Twitch amendment could falter at any step along the way, but the fact that Ocasio-Cortez introduced the amendment at all speaks to the mounting public pressure against the military using video games and Twitch as a recruitment tool.“It’s incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms," Ocasio-Cortez told Motherboard. "War is not a game, and the Marine Corps’ decision not to engage in this recruiting tool should be a clear signal to the other branches of the military to cease this practice entirely.”The U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force all run esports teams and connect with potential recruits via Twitch. The Army and Navy both banned viewers from their channels for discussing American war crimes. The ACLU said the move may have violated the first amendment, and the Knight First Amendment Institute has sent letters to the Army and Navy telling them to stop censoring Twitch viewers.