WASHINGTON — The Air Force is the latest branch jumping into esports, where service members livestream themselves playing video games, as the Pentagon increasingly looks to the gaming community as an outreach and retention tool.
On Saturday, the service will launch Command Clash, a six-part esports series on Twitch that pits 29 airmen, male and female, across multiple bases in competition playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The series will also feature celebrities such as NFL free agent Clay Matthews and former NFL running back Ahman Green. Jeff Leach, the voice actor for the Call of Duty character Ghost, commentates on each match. In the final episode, one base will be declared the champion.
Unlike the Army, the Air Force does not have big recruiting goals with esports as a core component. They are also not in a hurry to mold gaming into a high-profile recreation or sport, such as Navy football, Army Combatives or the Marine Corps Band. Richard Cooper, a civilian spokesman for the Command Clash series, said the branch is putting its toes in the water.
“This is the future, gaming and esports are not going away anytime soon,” Cooper said. “The Air Force absolutely sees the potential of what this can be. This is us really dipping our toes in the kiddie pool of esports and gaming.”
Cooper said that recruiting is not the focus. “While each branch has its own objectives, we decided to focus our program on entertaining our Airmen and providing a place for them