Aug 16

Gaming While Deployed In The Military

While in the military, I was deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan (pictured above). Each time, I brought a different portable gaming system with me. Though each deployment was different, each has a shared memory of spending my time off enjoying a video game in a place far removed from my couch at home. I’ll leave out the military details and focus on the gaming.
I deployed to Kuwait in 2003, and provided support from a border camp in Kuwait for those moving into Iraq. I took with me a Game Boy Advance. Samus from Metroid Fusion was acclimating to changes in her suit while I did the same. She absorbed abilities, whereas I probably still have sand in my ears.
Base in Kuwait – AKA The Sand Level (now closed)
I deployed to Iraq in 2004. Many hours were spent when I was not on shift playing Final Fantasy Tactics on my Nintendo DS. Grinding is a term that could be used both for what I did in the strategy game, and what I did during my deployment. I did other things when not working, such as catching camel spiders with a friend. Playing video games is much safer (and smarter). Monster Hunter, anyone?
Playing Real Life Pokemon? (not my picture; there’s actually two here)
I deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, and I brought my PSP. I had a PlayStation 3, but did not expect to have a setup that would allow me to play it so I left it in storage. I spent my time off in the evenings playing games, and used my PSP in the mornings to watch videos or play music while I ran on the treadmill. The treadmill had a convenient lip that held the PSP perfectly. It also accompanied me on my late-night walks across camp to use the latrine (TMI?).
Ironically enough, one game I spent time playing on my PSP was Field Commander. I played the war game after downloading it through the PS Store, which I will add took all night to download the 800 megabytes. In the states, it would not have been an issue. But connecting to an unreliable satellite connection meant that some mornings I would wake up, find that the connection had been dropped at some point, and I’d have to try again the next night when I returned from work. Many a game were played with others in my team, plotting out how to take out each other’s armies.
I happened upon a PS2, which was being sold by a local vendor in a bazaar. From the markings, it was the property of a soldier from the previous unit. The vendor didn’t have any games, so I bought the system and also a small TV. It was my first PS2! Yes, I know, blasphemy. This was right before I went home for mid-tour leave, so while in the states I bought a couple PS2 games I always wanted to try – God of War and Shadow of the Colossus. I put them in my bag to play when I returned to Afghanistan, and I had fun with each on my days off. One game featured a character taking on insurmountable odds, while the other was about a character wandering the vast landscape in search of the enemy. I was able to relate to both.
Advancing to the next stage
Of course, I didn’t get a lot of time to play either my PSP or PS2, but was glad to have them both. It was a relaxing escape from an otherwise taxing year. I didn’t even beat either of the PS2 games, but am glad that they’re both available now for the PS3. They’re on my list of games to get, because I never did keep the system and games. I left them in Afghanistan along with the TV, for the next soldier to enjoy.
I’m out of the military now, and have a good time with my PS Vita. I will be waiting patiently for a sequel to Field Commander and a final boss in a video game that is as scary as a camel spider.