America's Army, the US Army's free-to-play military shooter and recruitment device, has been awarded with five Guinness World Records, including Largest Virtual Army, Most Hours Spent Playing a Free Online Shooter and Largest Travelling Game Simulator.
Seems that the people at Guinness come up with records for everything these days. In their latest book, the Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer's Edition, the authoritative record-keepers bestow upon the U.S. Army's free-to-play military sim five records: Largest Virtual Army, Most Downloaded War Video Game, Most Hours Spent Playing a Free Online Shooter, Earliest Military Website to Support a Video Game and, uh, Largest Traveling Game Simulator?
For the Largest Army award, the U.S. Army boasted that the game has over 9.7 million registered users, which makes "the virtual America's Army 15 times larger than the real thing!" I'm not sure that's something to brag about, why would the Army want to point out that kids would rather be playing this game than actually enlisting? Still, big numbers are undeniably impressive: the game has been downloaded 42,611,601 times, there have been 230,918,365 played hours logged in as of August last year, and people from over 60 countries have played it. Of course, the game is free to play and has the distributional and promotional power of the U.S. government behind it, so it's not hard to imagine that a lot of people have said "why not" and given it a try. I'm sure almost every teenager who stumbles into their strip mall's Army recruitment center gets about 20 copies of the game to take home.
As for the Largest Traveling Game Simulator, America's Army wins that title because of something called the Virtual Army Experience, a modified version of AA that takes six real Humvees, surrounds them with flat screens and then has up to 50 people get in and simulate escorting supplies through a dangerous warzone. The Humvees have light guns attached to them, and shake and rumble according to what's happening on screen, just like those simulator rides at theme parks. Though, I think I'd take the Back to the Future ride over the Virtual Army Experience.