The service showcased its latest recruitment technique over Memorial Day weekend in Long Island, N.Y. with a tractor trailer equipped with eight VR pods that can accommodate about 60 people, according to USA Today. The simulation uses Oculus Rift technology to give users a glimpse of what it's like to be in the Navy.
"I’m on a covert Navy mission driving a special operation craft on a secluded river," USA Today's Ed Baig writes. "I'm charged with helping to extract a SEAL team pinned down by enemy fire. The boat is outfitted with extreme firepower, but it is left to my fellow crewmen to fire the guns, launch the grenades and provide cover for other sailors while I navigate the waterway."
While the Navy and other branches of the U.S. military have used VR for training purposes in recent years, this simulation—which launched in October—is the first time the Navy has used virtual reality to attract prospective sailors. A Navy spokesperson told Baig that “engagements” of potential recruits has more than doubled among those who have tried the simulated mission.
If it seems like the experience could be too intense, Baig wrote that the game "seemed less violent or graphic than some other video games I’ve played" and suggested that the innocuous simulation could be intentional to avoid scaring off recruits.
The tractor trailer carrying the VR pods is currently being driven around the country to schools and special events, but the Navy believes users will someday be able to download their own VR missions to play from anywhere, according to the report. The idea is to attract students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to segue into the 60 career paths offered in the Navy.