263: The Regiment

The Regiment

The lessons learned in a strict, military environment can affect a person for the rest of their lives. Nicholas Branch's experience in the 75th Ranger Regiment tells us that it makes no difference if the military environment is in a "Realism" unit playing over the internet.

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I had a bit of trouble taking some of this seriously, but it really interesting nonetheless. Thanks.

Interesting article. Roleplaying, in a way, but more close to home. It was very interesting to read.

Thank you for sharing that with us. Is was very thought-provoking and intresting.

I thought this was a strangely touching article. Perhaps this could be the solution to a good number of the foul mouthed players on XBL.

It was easy to forget at times in this article you were referring to a game. On one hand taking your roles in the game so seriously is a little offensive to people in the real military, whose lives are literally on the line if they go into battle without a solid team behind them.

But aside from that it's a tale about real human situations, played out over the internet - and there's nothing like the objectives of having a strong team in a simulated combat scenario to drive people to be their best. Once you have that I imagine at times it can be easy to forget you're playing a game, as well.

This was oddly fascinating, and even heartwarming.

Props.

respect even in the face of stupidity and neglect.

NEVER!

Seriously, nice article.

As someone who has both spent time with realism units (Though mine were in Call of Duty) and served a year as a conscript in an actual army, I think it is fair to say that the comparsion is somewhat flawed. What Mr. Branch is describing in his article is really what every teenager at some point learns (some learn it way later than other though).

The Army was a whole other deal. Sure, it thaught me responsibility in the quickest way possible ("Didn't pack your storm kitchen? Seems like you'll be eating cold chow the rest of the week") but the camaraderie with some of the men and women I served with can never be emulated. Being on a sports team or in a competitive clan/unit instills a certain friendship, but it is not the same sense of belonging that military service instills. If you have a really bad day, you just don't log onto ventrilo or the server. But in the military, if I have a bad day in the field, if I feel the entire world is stacked against me and I can't take anymore of the stuff the officers are making us do in the exercise I can't just decide not to show up. I will have to break down in front of these people that rely on me to do my part. Likewise, they will have to break down in front of me if they get the same feeling. In the end, we will come out as a stronger unity (hopefully) because we know each others strengths and weaknesses and we know that we can rely on each other to cover each others' backs and support each other in times of need.

Letting someone ventilate over ventrilo or teaching them how to behave like a grown up doesn't compare to that. Because online you'll never see the highest peaks of someone's personality nor will you see their deepest valleys. In a sense, realism units are more like really serious hobby-sports teams, which is rather fascinating in itself.

For some reason - and this is only from my own experience - DOD:S seemed to build especially tight communities. I for one will always remember fondly my time in the game. Nice to see I'm not the only one. Cheers!

Needs moar Cpl. Machi.

Maybe one of the reasons whats-his-name had some issues with his girlfriend was that he had to blow off something she wanted to do because he had 'compulsory training' for this online regiment. Sorry, but that is taking gaming too seriously. It's supposed to be FUN. It ceases to be fun - for me, and imo - when you HAVE to do it.

And sorry, but an online gaming clan - no matter how serious they take it, or how dedicated to realism they are - is NOT a strict MILITARY environment. Calling a gaming clan a military environment is insulting to anyone in, or ever in, uniform.

I wouldn't expect any serving member of the armed forces to be insulted that a collection of (mostly) kids too young to serve would choose to form clans that try and play games with a little more realism. Hell having played some of the more realistic FPS's out there (America's Army being one) it makes me have even more respect for them (*EDIT* that is the Military men who do that job for real).

If realism based clans like the 75th Ranger Battalion help some kids (or even older peeps) to learn to grow up with respect and understanding then I think it's a good thing. Talking from personal experience in Britain, alot of kids in my neighbourhood lack respect for themselves and other people. The mention of hurling abuse at teammates when it was their own failing struck a cord as I know it is something I am sometimes guilty of myself.

I'd also like to point out that one of the officers of the 75th Ranger Regiment mentioned in the article HAD served in the US Army Medical Corp. What we read of him doesn't sound like a man who feels insulted. Perhaps we civvies should let the Military men and women do the talking about who feels insulted.

oddly this article reminded me of a sports team

Of course, in the end, it's always about relationships. No matter what you are doing, you are interacting with other people and even if the activity you are performing is virtual your relationship, even if under a layer of roleplaying, is real.

That's why I don't like MMO games. Fuck other human beings, they're fucking weird!

itf cho:
Maybe one of the reasons whats-his-name had some issues with his girlfriend was that he had to blow off something she wanted to do because he had 'compulsory training' for this online regiment. Sorry, but that is taking gaming too seriously. It's supposed to be FUN. It ceases to be fun - for me, and imo - when you HAVE to do it.

Never underestimate other people's definition of fun. They weren't gaining anything by playing that way, so why else would they do it if not for fun? There's a lot of bile against people who spend way too much time adjusting their fictional characters, but that's what they enjoy in the game. Forcing them to play our way is what would make them say, 'Isn't this supposed to be FUN?'

But I'd hate to have to play something. I get neurotic when I run a Mafia game (in which I have to show up and run the show at specific times).

Great read. Its articles like this that make me appreciate Escapist and gaming in general :)

Great read. There aren't only kids in these units, but also men and women with families. Many of whom have or are currently serving in different militaries around the world.

Gunner 51:
I thought this was a strangely touching article. Perhaps this could be the solution to a good number of the foul mouthed players on XBL.

I doubt it.
It seems that in order for this realism roleplaying to be effective it must be taken seriously.
Like honestly, it sounds similar to any other server to me: Be polite, have fun, don't be a jerk and I'll be respected.
I will be honest when I say this "Realism" concept may be appealing to some people but to me it just seems to be kind of ridiculous.
But each to his own, I suppose.

Honestly, the only role playing I wish to engage in is dressing like a cowboy and talking with a drawl. Purely for awesomeness.

Straz:

Gunner 51:
I thought this was a strangely touching article. Perhaps this could be the solution to a good number of the foul mouthed players on XBL.

I doubt it.
It seems that in order for this realism roleplaying to be effective it must be taken seriously.
Like honestly, it sounds similar to any other server to me: Be polite, have fun, don't be a jerk and I'll be respected.
I will be honest when I say this "Realism" concept may be appealing to some people but to me it just seems to be kind of ridiculous.
But each to his own, I suppose.

Honestly, the only role playing I wish to engage in is dressing like a cowboy and talking with a drawl. Purely for awesomeness.

The cowboy idea sounds like a total hoot, I'd totally do it for RDR. XD
I guess what the foul-mouths need is supervision, ideally by their parents. I'd bet not many of them would be as foul mouthed if their parents were around and dope-slapped them every time they cut out of line.

But parents are busy people and the kids will continue to curse. I guess I should just try to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to foul-mouthed kids on XBL. :)

Gunner 51:

Straz:

Gunner 51:
Snip

Snip

The cowboy idea sounds like a total hoot, I'd totally do it for RDR. XD
I guess what the foul-mouths need is supervision, ideally by their parents. I'd bet not many of them would be as foul mouthed if their parents were around and dope-slapped them every time they cut out of line.

But parents are busy people and the kids will continue to curse. I guess I should just try to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to foul-mouthed kids on XBL. :)

I will admit, the cowboy idea was largely inspired by RDR, but I will take credit for having that aspiration for some time before I even knew of such a game. It was such an awesome idea.

OT edit: I suppose, if one was inclined when one is playing with such impressionable youth one might gain their trust and then discourage foul language to present a slightly more civilized facet of gaming culture to them, but I have my doubts about such a plan.

That was great. Really thought provoking...

Straz:

Gunner 51:

Straz:

Gunner 51:
Snip

Snip

The cowboy idea sounds like a total hoot, I'd totally do it for RDR. XD
I guess what the foul-mouths need is supervision, ideally by their parents. I'd bet not many of them would be as foul mouthed if their parents were around and dope-slapped them every time they cut out of line.

But parents are busy people and the kids will continue to curse. I guess I should just try to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to foul-mouthed kids on XBL. :)

I will admit, the cowboy idea was largely inspired by RDR, but I will take credit for having that aspiration for some time before I even knew of such a game. It was such an awesome idea.

OT edit: I suppose, if one was inclined when one is playing with such impressionable youth one might gain their trust and then discourage foul language to present a slightly more civilized facet of gaming culture to them, but I have my doubts about such a plan.

I'd have to agree that dressing the part sounds like one hell of a nifty way of increasing the immersion faction in a game. Couple that with holodeck type games, and gaming will be the closest thing to perfect as you can get.

Yeah, I clicked on this thinking you were a REAL ranger who was comparing his experiences to realism in video games or something. What I read is the most offensive article I've yet seen on the escapist. Congratulations, your clan was strict. But you have no IDEA what it takes to actually be like the people you pretend to be. Basic training for you was sitting at home on your computer and playing video games. Oh, and you had to read the forum EVERY DAY *gasp*.

Aside from regular basic training (which is no cake walk itself, I doubt your clan ever stuck you in a gas chamber and told you to take your mask off), rangers hopefuls have to attend ranger school, one of the hardest experiences anyone in any military will go through for training. Over these 60 days, they have to experience non-stop battle drills, little food, and even less sleep (about three hours a night if they are lucky).

I'm a sophomore in college currently, and in my second year of Army ROTC. I understand a decent bit about how the military works, I know my battle drills and such shit, and I have to pass a PT test every month, in addition to the drills we do every week. I actually have a military ID, something I doubt your clan could provide you with.

But if I tried to pretend I was a ranger, I would get my ass kicked for it. Last semester, a couple of guys in my platoon gave themselves ranger cuts (haircuts you see in black hawk down). One of the sergeants, who had just gotten back from Iraq where he was infantry, was furious, and rightly so. By comparing yourself to the men who not only serve our country, but strive to be better than all others, strive to be ELITE, you are comparing THEM to YOU.

Don't tell yourself that you have any idea what it's like. You will never make a life or death decision online, no matter how strict your clan is, you can always log off.

Is he saying that through this experience he now knows what being a soldier is like? No he didn't, so could you lot just quit it? This isn't about comparing being a soldier to being a clanmember.

This article is about gaming pulling people through a bad spot. In his case it was a militaristic version of a clan that he used to aim his mind again.

This article is about positive real world effects that can result from dedicating yourself to a game. Something most of the people standing outside and looking in seem to want to ignore wholesale. We need more articles like this out there.

Trying to play a multiplayer game to get to a high level is just as much serious business as trying to compete in a sport. It confronts you with yourself. No, you may not strictly call it fun, but the rewards when you hit that next level of understanding or get to grips with a certain mechanic thats been eluding you are grand indeed.

I've been through stuff like this solitarily in Virtua Fighter 5. Picking yourself back up after getting your face smashed in by the same guy ten times in a row and trying to learn something from it instead of just quitting is a harrowing experience. The fact that it is a video game and not an actual sport doesn't change the mental impact of it.

Cool to hear something about the teamplayer version of that.

I think the primary problem with this article is that it suggests that "realistic" interactions are the most appropriate way to play a game which is inherently slightly unrealistic. When I think of "realism" in first-person shooters, I think of ARMA 2, ShackTac and Dslyecxi's Tactics, Techniques and Procedures Guide.

It's quite interesting to contrast the differences between the realism unit portrayed in this article and the structure of ShackTac, which was founded and is run by a retired Marine who works on fully-featured military simulators. For example, here's what Dslyecxi has to say on the principles of in-game command structure:

Dslyecxi's Tactics, Techniques and Procedures Guide:

Thus was born the system consisting of five ShackTac ranks. Through our development in ArmA, to account for our ever-expanding playerbase and our maturation as a group, we added two additional ranks, bringing the total to seven. Our original intent behind creating the ranking system still holds as true today as when it was initiated. In short, we wanted to:

* Establish a system by which any player, new or old, could easily recognize a fellow player and know what to expect from them on a leadership level. This becomes more and more important the larger a group gets - it's unreasonable to expect your average player to be able to remember the leadership skills of 150 players, not all of who play in every single session.

* Make it possible to define the ShackTac Platoon Organization in detail as well as define the ranks and their typical places within the platoon. Established responsibilities and roles make it possible for us to have our platoon structure and make it work in a gaming environment. While this would be possible without ranks, it would not be as easy and would likely be quite a bit more confusing for the average player. Since accessibility to our playerbase is a key part of a healthy group system, this became a critical element for us.

* Use the least number of ranks possible to accurately describe the varied player types present in the group. This has evolved to be seven ranks, and they span the spectrum nicely. You have the probationary members (pre-FNGs), the accepted-but-still-new players (FNGs), the guys who are there to be basic grunts and have a good time (Grunts), the guys who have played with us for awhile and take the lower-level leadership roles (Regulars), the ones who want to lead fireteams and squads or take very specialized roles (Specialists), the players who have taken on additional responsibilities both in- and out-of-game regarding leadership, community development, etc (Corporals), and the players who want to act as leaders more than soldiers and also bear the greatest responsibilities in group development (NCOs).

* Present the ranks in a way that emphasizes their practical necessity and minimizes any concerns of excessive "mil-sim", "roleplaying", or "elitist" behavior. This was a key point for me - I did not want to alienate players by making them feel that they're somehow not as worthy as a "higher-ranked" player. All ShackTac players are treated equally, and those who wear the higher-level ranks have earned them and carry greater responsibility because of them.

* Avoid introducing any excessive "mil-sim" or "roleplaying" behavior. Military formalities are excessive in a gaming environment - thus, you will not hear - aside from in jest - any players calling each other "Sir" or becoming bogged down in similarly ego-stroking mil-mimicking behaviors. We are all friends, and we have no need to pretend that we're superior to anyone else on a personal level simply because we have a given role within the group.

* Allow players to choose their level of participation in the group. We believe that nobody should be pressured to do what they don't want to do, and the ranks allow us to give our players an option to opt out of leadership if they so desire. If someone wants to lead, the path is open to them, but they are not forced into it against their will. If a player wants to just be one of the guys toting a rifle and having a good time while following orders, that path is his to choose and noone will ever be looked down on because of it.

This is, as I understand it, the rule basis for a very successful unit of military simulator players, and it's very noticeable where they differ from the OP's own "realism unit" - despite a sound grounding in realistic military tactics, these players don't go excessively deep into the military simulator culture, and they're all there to support each other without internal disputes or glory-hogs.

I believe that there's an important understanding within ShackTac that may well be lacking in other, more rigid realism units. As close as ARMA 2 may be to real combat - and as it is built on the same engine as fully-comprehensive military simulators, this is a somewhat legitimate comparison - there is only so close that simulation can get, and ultimately, ARMA 2 is still a game. This may be a useful message to take home.

Uh huh, okay, an interesting story I'll give you that

Not willing to comment on the whole "mil-sim, weekend warrior" thing, because I'm really tired of this kind of argument. But at least you're not one of those 13 year-old COD players that are self-proclaimed "soldiers"

I must Say branches I enjoyed your article anout the 75th and the time you spent in it. Also, I believe you need more Cpl. Machi shooting us all in the head! Lastly, to all those who are offended by this article about how he is comparing this to the actual army I think you need to re-read the article I'm not going to say anymore than that.

samwise970:
Yeah, I clicked on this thinking you were a REAL ranger who was comparing his experiences to realism in video games or something. What I read is the most offensive article I've yet seen on the escapist. Congratulations, your clan was strict. But you have no IDEA what it takes to actually be like the people you pretend to be. Basic training for you was sitting at home on your computer and playing video games. Oh, and you had to read the forum EVERY DAY *gasp*.

Aside from regular basic training (which is no cake walk itself, I doubt your clan ever stuck you in a gas chamber and told you to take your mask off), rangers hopefuls have to attend ranger school, one of the hardest experiences anyone in any military will go through for training. Over these 60 days, they have to experience non-stop battle drills, little food, and even less sleep (about three hours a night if they are lucky).

I'm a sophomore in college currently, and in my second year of Army ROTC. I understand a decent bit about how the military works, I know my battle drills and such shit, and I have to pass a PT test every month, in addition to the drills we do every week. I actually have a military ID, something I doubt your clan could provide you with.

But if I tried to pretend I was a ranger, I would get my ass kicked for it. Last semester, a couple of guys in my platoon gave themselves ranger cuts (haircuts you see in black hawk down). One of the sergeants, who had just gotten back from Iraq where he was infantry, was furious, and rightly so. By comparing yourself to the men who not only serve our country, but strive to be better than all others, strive to be ELITE, you are comparing THEM to YOU.

Don't tell yourself that you have any idea what it's like. You will never make a life or death decision online, no matter how strict your clan is, you can always log off.

Alright man, a friendly word of advice: Get the fuck over it.
Alright?
Dead fucking set no need to be a whiney little piece of shit. Yeah, I understand this guy doesn't make a fair comparison to the armed forces but he's really just making a mild article about how a person can benefit from some discipline and helping people out and all that, and about how him playing army-men with a couple of friends on the internet, but honestly man, if you see a child playing with plastic army figurines you don't give him a kick in the head for trying to imitate life in the armed forces and tell him to stand up and get a real job do you?

We get that serving in the armed forces is bloody hard, but you think that the author thinks that it is easy just because he can play a game about it? Aren't you aware that imitation is the highest form of flattery? This man is just trying to apply some real social interaction to his online life, trying to liken himself to people he respects, and you think that is unreasonable? Well this man is allowed to compare himself to whomever he likes. Because they are, when it comes down to it, no better than him.
He's ALLOWED to emulate whoever he likes purely because he likes them so I suggest you deal with it.
You're a real hard soldier after all, shithead.

As a former member of a Call of Duty 2/Call of Duty 4 tactical realism unit, the memories of my time in it, while reading this article, hit me like a bullet train speeding towards me from the opposite direction. So thank you, Nicholas Branch, for the trip down memory lane. =) It is great in general that there is now an article presenting realism units to the general gaming community.

I was a senior officer in the 29th Infantry Division (formerly known, when it was a Call of Duty 2 clan, as the 6th Armoured Division). My first encounter with tactical realism was when I joined a United Offensive clan called the 1st Axis Division. I was preety young back then and I have very little memories of my time there. However, it was there that I met Malcolm, my immediate superior and a real-life veteran, and we became really good friends. While I did manage to gain a promotion and even almost got into an official match (unfortunately, my PB Guid was not set up, so I couldn't participate). However, my stay there was shortlived as the clan fell apart soon after (for reasons that I no longer remember). It was shortly after that that Malcolm decided to form his own clan and offered me a position in it. I accepted and things went on from there.

Sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, I wasn't very good at my job. I wasn't a very good player, my leadership skills were lacking and I sometimes had trouble gaining the respect of other clan members. Worst of all, I tended to be missing for great periods of time due to real-life obligations. While my friend was very understanding about this, he still expressed great disappointment and I could not help but feel deep shame for letting the clan down. I tried to ramp up my activity and, for a time, I even managed to participate almost every day. But then college and intern hit me, which finally made me realise that I just simply didn't have enough time to dedicate to being a senior officer in a highly competitive clan. With that realisation, I decided to give my resignation and no longer burden the clan with my presence (or lack thereof).

Honestly, the only thing which I could say was my strength was that I was preety good at writing texts and giving speeches. It was for this reason that my good friend tended to poke fun at me, calling me a "propaganda minister" (although I made it a personal policy to never lie in public announcements; I despise propaganda). Also, I was often charged with mediating in disputes and sometimes had success with that as well.

Anyway, realism units aren't without their faults. If nothing else, they certainly are not immune to drama that is typical for gaming organisations. Quite the contrary; beacuse people in realism units tend to be so emotionally and personally involved, internal disputes end up being an even more serious matter. A big problem is when members are hesitant to speak their minds about what troubles them out of fear of being chastised for it. Thus they end locking it up inside themselves until they can't take it any longer and they decide to quit the clan. And since they have made some good friends in the clan during their stay, those friends might decide to leave the clan (and join another) along with them, which can result in a mini-exodus.

Looking at the above paragraph, you might be thinking that the idea that realism units are "weird angsty nerds pretending to be soldiers" holds true. But that isn't the case. Far from it, infact. In order to become a recruit to begin with, you needed to be at least 18 years of age. Exceptionally, we also accepted people of 16 years of age or older if they were deemed mature enough to partake in the clan's activities, but those were rare examples. So while there were a few teenagers in the clan, the members were all adults for the most part. Infact, some of them were well into their 40's or even 50's. In general, we didn't have any "xenophobic kiddies" that otherwise plague online games. If someone like that tried to join the clan, they either quickly realised that it wasn't for them and left or they were given the boot.

While conflicts did occur, as mentioned before, they were generally few and far in between. For the most part, the atmosphere in the unit was mature and civil. We were generally layed back when we were just hanging out. During official meetings, however, we spoke in turns and nobody was interrupted while they were talking unless absolutely necessary (even then, it was done so politely). While the clan wasn't completely democratic (afterall, the chain of command needed to be respected), all participants were allowed to have a say. Eventually recognising the problem that people tended to be too quiet about what was troubling them, the HQ (as in the commanding staff) and our leader in particular encouraged people to speak their minds during clan meetings.

Also, even though we were a realism unit, our server enjoyed a great deal of popularity. To be fair, we actually had two servers: one was a standard Search & Destroy/Headquarters Hardcore mode server, while the other was a Search & Destroy server with the Tactical Realism Mod applied (although we later switched mods due to disagreements with some of the changes in TRM). But even our standard server had a great deal of additional rules applied (things like bunnyhopping, dolphin diving and nade spamming were forbidden, for example). In spite (or should I say, precisely beacuse) of this, we never had trouble populating the server. Thanks to the strict rules and policing, people liked coming to our server in order to avoid the rude and disrespectful behaviour that was rampant elsewhere.

Overall, realism units aren't for everyone. Different people look for different things when playing a first-person shooter. Some just want a standard shooter to have some fun with while others want to compete by using skills that apply in a purely game environment as opposed to ones that apply to an environment that has artifically-enforced rules in order to promote realism. And yes, no matter how realistic you make a shooter, it will never match the experience of entrusting your life to someone else while rockets, bombs and bullets are flying past you. Nevertheless, that is how we members of realism units, both former and current, enjoy our games (at least first-person shooters, anyway). Plus, among online communities, the civility, comradeship and espirit de corps enjoyed among members of realism units is second to none and is a unique phenomenon in online gaming.

Also, those of you claiming that realism units are somehow an insult to soldiers serving in actual militiaries...well, clearly you were never in a realism unit. If you had been, you would have known how grossly inaccurate such a statement is. Infact, our unit in particular was formed in memory of two members of the actual 29th who died during their tour of duty in Iraq and who were good friends of our leader (who himself was a former soldier). Several of our members were either former veterans or soldiers that were not deployed at the time, drawn to realism units due to the generally more mature atmosphere enjoyed in them. In general, it was an unwritten rule that you needed to have at least some understanding and respect for the men and women who were putting their lives in danger for their respective countries. So members of realism units are very much aware (in some cases, intimately so) that a game environment doesn't come even close to an actual war environment and generally have more respect for the men and women in uniform than most other people.

So anyway, that is about all I had to say. It ended up being fairly lengthy, but I hope it gave you some more insight as to how realism units work.

Really intresting article and quite funny at times too. Nicely done.

Interesting article, glad the group has helped you out and allows you to do the same for others.

Interesting insight.

Just bought Red Orchestra 2 , I honestly hope I can get an experience as meaningful as that.

removed for necro and hostility

Really good read. An excellent article.

 

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