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Gamers' 'Call of Duty'

Published: 02:37PM July 11th, 2013
Gamers' 'Call of Duty'

Dean Siemon/Northwest Guardian

Robert Schott, right, and Roy Grant race against each other playing Forza Motorsports on Xbox 360 Saturday at the Warrior Zone on Lewis North.

Moments before their weekly match with Soldiers at Fort Riley, Kan., July 6, several Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldiers and reservists were feeling confident at the Warrior Zone as they played a few practice rounds of “Call of Duty: Black Ops” against random online opponents.

“We are so ready for Riley,” said Pfc. Rodney Poole of the 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. “We just won four matches in a row.”

And while the originally scheduled showdown between local Army, Navy and Air Force installations were called off, JBLM service members still got a few rounds in with the rest of the regulars that come every Saturday.

Sometimes the gamers go to the Warrior Zone on Lewis North multiple times throughout the week to play various titles on one of the building’s 16 Xbox 360 game systems, 16 PlayStation 3 consoles and 32 Alienware computers for online games.

“They all have something in common and that’s gaming,” said Rye Blanks, recreational assistant at the Warrior Zone. “It’s to get them to socialize and get them out of their bubble.”

Like many of the activities and tournaments at the Warrior Zone, service members get together outside of their daily routine in the military to let off steam after a long day at work or connect with others.

A large numbers of video game enthusiasts in the JBLM community have found new friends inside the Warrior Zone.

Sergeant Adam Montes of the 673rd Dental Company regularly plays with a group of other JBLM service members in the online game “League of Legends.” They meet every Saturday to face a team stationed at Fort Riley.

“You come here, you get to see the community that you play in usually at home,” Montes said. “Seeing other active duty people enjoy the same type of (games).” Several service members mentioned there is a connection with being in the military and playing video games, including taking skills from basic training and utilizing those strategies in the war-based game “Call of Duty: Black Ops.”

“We’ll do strikes, we’ll go in and ambush or set up positions,” said Army Reservist Robert Schott. “It’s cool you can take what you learned in real life and apply it to the game.” For games like “League of Legends,” strategy is a big part of success when it comes to taking down towers, minions or other teams in play.

“Team composition plays a big part into it,” Montes said. “Critical thinking, analyzing the situation, teamwork, stuff like that.”

While there are plenty of gamers who have a lot of experience, Blanks said anyone who isn’t as strong on a title shouldn’t be scared of playing against the regulars. In fact, they may even learn some tips on how to improve.

“They take each other under their wing,” Blanks said.

That shown support has been key for a few of the regulars. According to Blanks, there are some who may have severe depression through PTSD or family issues. She mentioned that competing in the weekly tournaments and playing in a team outside of their military service gives some participants a sense of purpose.

“Yeah, it’s gaming, but it’s deeper than that,” Blanks said.

With the growing popularity of video games at the Warrior Zone, there are several plans for more competitions and adding more to their video game arsenal. In addition to the weekly competitions, Blanks said she hopes to develop an “Xbox Olympics” where participants will play various genres to crown an overall champion.

While there are a number of ideas for the event, the current outline includes first person shooters, sports games and fighting games.

“If you’re a gamer, you can play multiple games,” Blanks said.