How I became a fan of video games and gaming while serving in Iraq


Gaming has been an integral part of my life since I was a kid. From the first gaming consoles, like Atari, to the latest, such as PlayStation 4, I have played them all. From single player to vast multiplayer online modes, you will see me there. One place you will not find me is in a game with immature gamers or lone soldiers. They often do more harm than good and the experience is less than enjoyable. Gaming, as a whole, has become more competitive and satisfying.


My father owned an Atari. I played the game that was similar to table tennis. As simple as it was, it brought me joy. The next time I had interaction with a gaming console, it was in 1986 with the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite having only one game, Super Mario Bros., I spent countless hours running through worlds and beating King Koopa. However, I had a friend who owned multiple games. You could find me there on the weekends regularly. It is the same friend throughout the years that would have the latest consoles. I used to ride my bicycle for miles to go hang out with him. He had the Super NES and the Sega Genesis. All the good times I had playing Star Fox and Sonic the Hedgehog.


It was not until I was 18, that I was able to purchase a PlayStation of my own. My first game was Destruction Derby. Who doesn’t love driving fast and T-boning your opponents car while driving a Figure-8 track. I lost many hours of my life to that game. However that fails in comparison to what I lost in later games on later consoles.


Being older and employed, I was able to afford the latest consoles. The PlayStation 2 would be the most notable console that I have ever owned. That reason being due to the game SOCOM Navy Seals. That is where I took my online gaming name from, xX_Spectre_1_Xx. For those of you who do not know, Spectre was the fireteam leader’s call-sign. Because of SOCOM Navy Seals, a whole new world had opened up to me – first-person shooter gaming. Stealth, precision shooting, and fireteam leadership became a fascination of mine. It was a preclude to what was to come. Call of Duty was became a favorite franchise of mine. When COD:Modern Warfare was released, I was introduced to multiplayer online gaming. COD:Modern Warfare 2 ushered in an era of clan-based gaming. I joined a German formed clan xXx (not to be confused with a British formed clan XXX from Battlefield 3). Despite my rudimentary understanding of the German language, I knew enough to understand the commands of my team leaders. Real-life team interaction and plan execution became a rush for me.


Rudys picture
With my colleagues


Although I was in the military, I was more of a follower than a leader. I would follow orders and conduct operations according to how they wanted it done. It was effective and the experience was satisfying. However, COD lost it’s lustre after time. With my fate determined, there would be a game that I would play that would change my gaming experience forever.

I was taking college courses and it was exam time. I had already taken one exam in the morning. I had a couple of hours to kill before the I was to take the next one. I went to the military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation center (MWR), during my break. There was a TV and PlayStation 3 available. I went to the counter, reviewed the games on hand, and chose a game from a franchise that I had never played before. That game was Battlefield: Bad Company 2.


I started the single player campaign version. My first reaction – blown away. The visual graphics were nothing like I have seen before. I have been deployed to Iraq twice. I have heard enemy small-arms fire, incoming mortar rounds, controlled detonations, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) explosions first hand. The sound effects compared to real-life experience were uncanny. Instantly, I became a Battlefield soldier. COD seemed more like an arcade game at that point. It was an easy transition to Battlefield. My COD games began to collect dust and their shelf-life was about up. I picked up Battlefiled 3 the day it was released.


I was a lone soldier fighting against the enemy on Battlefield 3. A chance encounter with a clan XXX would again change my gaming experience forever. They played as a team. They communicated effectively. They fought with ferocity and violence of action. They played the fucking objective (PTFO). I gravitated towards them. I was so pleased by their actions, that I asked to join the clan. They openly accepted me as a clan mate, brother-in-arms, friend. Battlefield 3 had just gotten better. With our paths intertwined, games became more competitive and real. Sure there were defeats but playing as a team made us feel like winners. There was one player who stuck out among the rest. It is not just because his name but also because of his effectiveness on the battlefield and his dedication to his clan. His PSN name was spectreno1.


Spectreno1 and I became good friends. We built a bond on our love for SOCOM and our love for the fight. When we branched off from clan XXX and IFb was born, he chose me as a clan leader. IFb members were already outstanding. What could I bring to the team? My military experience could be used to refine the skills of these virual soldiers. I introduced military tactics. Even though the fast-paced gaming style of first-person shooter games are not a good host for real-life tactics. However, when used, the tactics could be effective at securing and defending objectives and implementing a good defensive posture to thwart enemy advances. Communication is key. Report enemy and friendly locations in order to coordinate an attack. Squad diversity is also key. Players should be comfortable with every aspect of every class. Squad members need to use the appropriate class to supplement and compliment the other members.


What is the combat effectiveness of a squad with all soldiers having the same class? It won’t get your team very far? That is why different the different classes were created. Combine different components together for maximum combat effectiveness – assault to revive, support for resupply, and recon for enemy identification. This unit is great for infantry maps. Engineers, with the support of the other classes, will wreak havoc on vehicle drivers.


Purple Heart

I have been in the military for about 10 years. I graduated from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) with a military occupational speciality (MOS) in supply/logistics. When I joined the military, I told myself I would not join as combat arms. However, I found the world of supply rather boring. I volunteered for a Personnel Security Detail (PSD) prior to my first deployment to Iraq in 2006. Our primary objective was to escort our Battalion commanding officer and/or the Battalion Command Sergeant Major (CSM) on any meetings or errands that these men had. We started with a team of 14 soldiers with different MOSs.


8We attended a PSD training course in Kuwait. While in Kuwait, I also attended a Squad Designated Marksmanship (SDM) course. Completion of the course required us to neutralize targets up to 500m with our military issued M14s. We were trained and proficent on many weapon systems – M9s, M4s, M249s, M240Bs, M2 .50 cals, Mk 19s, and AT4s. We took combat lifesaver (CLS) courses to ensure if anyone went down that we knew how to administer first aid. We were proficient in convoy movements and action on contact. We could move down city streets under the cover of darkness in a staggered formation and clear buildings. We were the ‘elite’ in our battalion. Anyone could see that when they looked at us. Our secondary objectives consisted of convoy security and site security. If anything went awry, we would have everything under control. One can see with my diverse knowledge of weapons why I think it is important to employ different classes on the battlefield to be more effective. Constant communication has saved the lives of my teammates as well as myself.


We discovered a suspicious bag on the side of the road on the night of May 16/17 2007 at 0000 hrs. I was the closest to the object. I was tasked with observing the object to determine if it was a threat or just simply trash. I turned my gun turret so I would have maximum protection should anything go wrong. With a simple Surefire flashlight, I leaned slightly out to observe the white burlap bag. Something told me that this does not look good. As soon as I was pulling myself back into the turret, there was a brilliant white flash of light and I felt a tug on the skin of my neck. An IED had exploded 5m from the right side rear of my vehicle. Shortly after came a burning sensation on my neck. It intensified over the next few minutes, much like burning your hand on the stove. I realized that I had been hit by shrapnel. There was a medic in my truck, However, he was on the radio calling up the attack. I tried to get his attention so that I could get some medical assistance. With all the radio traffic, he could not here me. I had to use something to stop the bleeding.


My wound

I felt weak; I didn’t feel like moving too much. I looked around the truck and found a greasy weapons cleaning rag. I used this dirty piece of cloth to apply pressure to my wound. Shortly after, we had clearance to return to base and go to the first aid station. We started with five gun trucks. There was still a mission to accomplish so we could only afford two trucks for the trip back. That’s not very much protection for outsiders in a foreign country that is in the middle of a sectarian upheaval. Nevertheless, we had to get back. There was a lead vehicle and a trail vehicle. I was in the trail gun truck. There were only three occupants in my truck, driver, truck commander and myself, the gunner. I was injured and there was no one on the .50 cal.


I found the strength and courage to climb up into the turret and man the .50 cal for the trip back to ensure no enemy tried to assault us on our way back. Upon arrival to the aid station, I climb out of the turret, strip myself of my gear, and stumbled to the awaiting medics. Shock had started to set in. Although the would was not that severe, communication to the receiving medics facilitated immediate medical care when I arrived. Again, I cannot stress the importance of communication.


In-game screenshot


I have not seen that much teamwork before as I have seen in the IFb clan now. We have a structured clan with spectreno1 at the helm. We are seperated into squads but yet we still are whole. The leader has a vision for his clan. He has conducted research and studies that not only help his clan but also his academic pursuits. John Adewole has asked for insight and opinions and the IFb team has delivered. IFb has grown and flourished due to it’s dedicated leader and loyal followers. The IFb clan is a virtual second home and classroom. It’s members are mature and hospitable. Every member brings something different to the table. We learn from one another and help one another. I take pleasure and give satisfaction in giving feedback for any question or project. With my help and that of others, IFb will continue to grow and be a leading gaming community.


5 thoughts on “How I became a fan of video games and gaming while serving in Iraq

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