Experiential design can be used not only by corporations to attract new customers, but has also been used by firms and the military as a recruiting tool. One controversial example is the United States Army’s use of experiential design within the “Army Experience,” a temporary attraction located at a mall outside of Philadelphia. Hoping to attract future recruits, the attraction was designed to appeal to the video game generation and invited teens to interact with a variety of kiosks to get more information on job opportunities, salaries, educational benefits and base locations around the world. They could also play a number of combat-related video games or step into a variety of role-playing areas, where they could act out mock missions aboard full-size humvees and two full-scale helicopter simulators. Recruiters were dressed in casual, civilian clothing in order to seem more approachable.
The $12 million-dollar center attracted tens of thousands of guests during its two-year run, but also came under considerable criticism for what was perceived as equating real war with video games.
Next week we’ll explore another use of experiential design by the U.S. Army – one that is been applauded for its role in helping to reduce soldier casualties as the hands of road-side bombs.