USO's Pro vs. GI Joe Program Rocks E3 Expo
Thursday, June 13, 2013
By Joseph Andrew Lee
When deployed to a war zone, there is a lot of down time and few comforts from home with which to occupy that time. The USO is working to change that.
Through a program called Pro vs. GI Joe, the USO has found a way to leverage one of the most popular pieces of gear found inside a USO Center – the gaming console – to give troops an experience of a lifetime by connecting them online to play their favorite title with professional athletes and entertainers.
“Be it baseball, NASCAR, NBA, NFL or pop-culture celebrities, there are lots of gamers out there,” said Juston Reynolds, USO program manager, “and they want to do something for the troops just like everyone else.”
At the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, Activision – through their charitable Call of Duty Endowment – donated some valuable real estate in the main hall where the program could be demonstrated and the USO could also display its deployable Mobile Entertainment Gaming Systems (MEGS). On the first two days of the expo, mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz and Australian rock band Sick Puppies came out to entertain and play video games with troops stationed at Kandahar Air Field and in Qatar.
“What the USO is doing here is amazing,” said Sick Puppies vocalist and guitarist Shimon Moore. “Sitting down and looking into that camera – looking directly into a USO in Afghanistan, seeing smiles on the faces of all these men and women when you sit down and start playing 'Call of Duty' – really gives you that instant feeling like you just did something awesome that made their day.”
Sick Puppies, which consists of Moore, bassist Emma Anzai and drummer Mark Goodwin, played about six songs for guests at the expo, including a number of songs from their new album, "Connect," available July 16.
“Their title song 'Connect' really made an impression on me, considering what Pro vs. GI Joe is really doing for these guys,” said Air Force veteran and Sick Puppies fan Gary Shomore while playing “Call of Duty” on a MEGS system after the show. “That’s all we want to do is connect and that’s all our family back at home wants to do.”
Pro vs. GI Joe has performed more than 100 events at arenas and expos across the United States, lifting the spirits of thousands of deployed troops and their families along the way.
“These days the technology in Xbox and PlayStation can make that connection happen in a very positive and interactive way,” Shomore said. “If I was at that USO in Kandahar, I’d be glowing right now.”
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Photo caption: Members of the band Sick Puppies, at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, linked up to play “Call of Duty” online with troops stationed in Afghanistan and Qatar on Wednesday. (USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee)
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