The Image of Gaming in Military Practice: Recruitment and Legitimacy

Frederik Meinert Bøttcher & Kasper Enggaard Højbjerg

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the introduction of the Danish Defence’s headhunting of gamers for Air Force positions. We wanted to examine and explore how people within the organization perceive gaming and consequently, how this impacts gaming technology’s pervasion within the organization with regards to recruitment and training. Through the exploration of the Danish Defence’s historical use of gaming technology, interviews with employees from the Danish Defence recruitment and simulations-training departments, a gamer focus group and a comparison with the recent U.S. Army eSports promotion team initiative, the general perception of gaming technology is sought as well as a look into brand and legitimation aspects of the Danish Defence and its connection to gaming. Examining the pervasion of gaming technology in the Danish Defence provides two major insights. First, we find a dominance of simulation technology within Danish Defence military practice, something that can be attributed to the historical use of simulation technology and perceived unrealism attributed to commercial gaming. Secondly, we find this dominance reflected in a minimal active use of commercial gaming technology within the Danish simulation workers and the Danish Military of Defence Personnel Agency. Furthermore, there are signs that the historical NATO collaboration on simulations will set precedence for gamer recruitment collaboration in a NATO context. The comparison of the Danish Defence and the U.S. Army initiatives potentially provides interesting evidence and arguments for the social construction of gaming technologies. We find that in a context with experience in the use of the technology, it is accepted and applied more actively than a context that perceives little applied function. The Danish gaming initiative is quite a novel step for the organisation and it could have implications for how the Danish Defence can brand themselves. While gaming’s use in training and recruitment has been explored before in a U.S. military context, it is quite understudied in a Danish context. Furthermore, this paper provides valuable insight into new digital recruitment approaches and its relation to gaming and simulations.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages117