On Sept. 2-3, at the airfield where Howard Hughes once built the “Spruce Goose” H-4 Hercules prototype in Playa Vista, Calif., thousands of shoot ‘em up video gamers from around the world joined for what they were told would be the ultimate military gaming experience.
Activision’s inaugural “Call of Duty XP” lived up to the hype, and Pro vs. GI Joe was at the heart of the exclusive action with live match-ups on stage each day between troops at USO Centers in Afghanistan and pro/am teams of military and NBA players here at home.
In 2008, the USO partnered with Pro vs. GI Joe to provide deployed troops with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to go head-to-head against their favorite professional athletes on the Internet.
Troops play in USO Centers all over the world while the professional athletes play in front of fans, friends, and sometimes even the troops’ family and friends in the U.S.
On day one, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics and his team of troops took on a team led by Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Before Black Ops I was a big SOCOM guy,” said Garnett, meaning he used to play the series SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals, for Playstation 2. “Of course I’m competitive and I want to win, but being able to play against guys in Afghanistan is just incredible. Even if I lose I still win.”
On day two the team led by Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves brought death upon the Chris Bosh-led squad.
“I think he hustled me,” said Bosh after the game. “I asked him if he was any good and I think he lied when he said he just dabbled.”
“I go hard,” responded Love. “I go hard in the paint! Really, I used to play Call of Duty all the time, but it’s been a while,” said Love. “It’s not like riding a bike. I’ve been practicing for three weeks so I could bring my ‘A’ game.”
While the Pro vs. GI Joe event went on inside one of two enormous hangars, outside, a popular Call of Duty map was re-created for a paintball battle-royale; a zip line stretched above a recreated fictional but operational “Burger Town” from the game; and Jeep, Inc. even showed up with stunt drivers, pyrotechnics and a team of U.S. Navy SEALs to take fans through a heart pounding off-road obstacle course.
Activision definitely went “hard in the paint” this weekend at Call of Duty XP, and they deserve a big round of applause for a successful event, for giving out tickets to 80 active duty troops, and for sponsoring the Pro vs. GI Joe program. – Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer