Army’s elite gamers go into battle at Insomnia 69

The Army’s top video gamers competed at the UK’s biggest games festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Insomnia 69 (I69) welcomed over 100,000 visitors to the NEC Birmingham.

In the Bring Your Own Computer area at I69, twenty-two Army Esports gamers took on civilian players in five of the most popular games: Halo, Counter Strike:GO, Rocket League, League of Legends and Valorant.

The Army’s Esports team set up a gaming battle arena in the style of a fortified patrol base where I69 visitors watched military Esports teams compete, including a headlining Army versus RAF game. A double-decker battle bus provided the backdrop for a giant screen and commentary booth.

In the Expo area, young gamers queued up to take on Airsoft and virtual reality (VR) weapons ranges while 35 Engineer Regiment (EOD) showed festival goers how to operate a search robot.

Custom-made dog tags were awarded to gamers achieving the fastest times on the Airsoft target range.

Playing Esports really helps with mental health. It's amazing how removing yourself from the outside world for a few hours can help you relax and destress Lance Corporal Jess Cutter, REME

Gamers got a bird's-eye view of the action across the huge exhibition halls from the top of an Army climbing tower.

Lance Corporal Jess Cutter competed in Rocket League at I69 as CodenameJess and is also the Army game manager for this popular game.

Jess, 25, a REME Corps Electrical Technician for land vehicles, said,

“I have owned a gaming console for as long as I remember. The console that really set off my love of gaming was the PlayStation 1.

“I got into Army Esports after finding out a few guys I worked with were in the Corps Esports Discord.

“Playing Esports really helps with mental health. It's amazing how removing yourself from the outside world for a few hours can help you relax and destress.”

Private Jonah Jupp, Esports name Ace Anvil, agreed with Jess about the positive impact gaming has had on his military role.

Jonah, 22, Royal Army Medical Corps, said,

“Esports tests and improves your reaction speed and forces you to think outside the box. These are both big advantages when it comes to treating patients.”

Jess continued,

“One of the things I love most about Esports is the people you meet. Some of the guys I've met through Rocket League and Esports in general are amazing.

“Being in an Esports team is a different challenge to physical sports. I also play badminton for the REME and Army as well as football for the REME women’s team.

“I have represented the Artillery in Nordic Skiing, one of the best things I've ever done. All these sports are physically draining but with Esports it’s more about the demands on you mentally.”

The British Army Esports community has almost 4,000 members, made up of serving soldiers, veterans, partners and dependents.

Esports, short for electronic sports, and video games are a big part of modern life, particularly for young people. The video games industry has a larger turnover than the music and film industries combined.

Esports has taken gaming to the next level with matches between talented gamers broadcast live, often through the popular video streaming platform Twitch.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Elliott, vice president of British Army Esports, said:

“Army Esports has generated strong links with online gamers, teams and organisations where soldiers have been able to give an insight into Army life for those that wish to know.

“The Army does not use Esports for direct recruiting but we realise when interacting with civilian gamers, either at festivals or in online events, we are in a position to explain why we do Esports and answer questions about what we do as soldiers.”

Find out more about British Army Esports at https://linktree/BritishArmyEsports