A new esports group is helping Marines find camaraderie, professional development and some friendly competition. Marine Corps Gaming (MCG) is a gaming community that has brought hundreds of Marines together online.
“It’s really an interconnected community,” said Staff Sgt. Ian Mills, who oversees MCG. “And for [the] Marine Corps, it’s really about resiliency and keeping Marines together and connected. Because when they’re off duty, they’re kind of just like to the wind, doing their own thing.”
When Marines join MCG, they quickly find new friendships and gamers who will challenge their ambitious nature.
“Gaming at its very core is connective, and Marines are inherently competitive,” said Michael Maggitti, a Marine veteran. “So, I founded Marine Corps Gaming to remove any barriers to entry and unite Marines who share the fighting spirit and passion for competitive gaming.”
Maggitti has moved on to civilian life, but he said his experience with MCG was invaluable.
“Personally, I leveraged my MCG experience into a marketing fellowship with Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment as I transitioned out of uniform via the DOD SkillBridge Program.” (SkillBridge matches civilian employment opportunities to specific job training and work experience at the cessation of military duty.)
Let the online games begin
The 500-plus-strong MCG community is a grassroots effort not officially recognized by the Marine Corps. It was started more than a year ago by Maggitti and Mills, who saw an empty gaming space that needed filling.
“My last years on active duty were spent developing the esports and gaming brand strategy for Marine Corps Recruiting Command,” Maggitti said. “Throughout that journey, I came to realize that there was no organic community for Marines that game to connect with other Marines from around the globe.”
According to Forbes, the Marine Corps was one of the first branches to embrace gaming, partnering with Xbox in 2013. However, internal efforts waned until MCG launched its platform in 2021.
A litmus test confirming the efficacy of MCG’s platform occurred at the recent inaugural Armed Forces Esports Championship in San Antonio, which featured Halo: Infinite. The Marine Corps placed third, competing against the Army, Air Force, Navy, Space Force and Coast Guard.
“We have a lot of talent inside of the Marine Corps when it comes to esports and gaming … and these Marines literally took what they were taught in the Marine Corps, applied it to esports and came [out] on top,” Mills said. “I was like, ‘That’s impressive.’”
Besides sharpening gaming skills, there are other benefits to dedicating time to video-game challenges.
“I recently looked at some work Krulak Center is doing,” Mills said. “That’s our wargaming center for the Marine Corps. And they’re already expanding into virtual reality, VR gaming, to teach young officers and senior leaders how to utilize the Marine Air Ground Task Force in new ways.”
Mills explained that the military is now trying to grasp the mechanisms of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum as they pertain to warfare. Gaming abilities can be useful in this undertaking.
“And the EM spectrum deals with a lot of different remotely-piloted vehicles, a lot of different cyber warfare operators and a bunch of technical skills that we as a Marine Corps don’t have a full capability on yet,” he said. “But with Marine Corps Gaming, these are the people who have those soft skills that are able to translate into our new information operations MOSs.”
Gaming for career guidance
Though gaming is seemingly MCG’s focal point, the community transcends game-skill refinement, warfare preparedness and friendly competition. It opens the door to career paths and offers members emotional support.
“Beyond the act of gaming, actively participating in MCG expands your professional network both in and outside of the Corps,” Maggitti said. “Whether you are looking for career guidance from senior Marines or technical advice from other occupational fields as you consider making a lateral move, those kinds of connections and discussions are happening within the MCG Discord server.”
MCG community discussions aren’t chained to gaming topics either as many subjects and issues are explored in the community.
“I’ve had Marines just reach out about career advice … I’ve had Marines reach out about mental health issues. Been able to get Marines actual help … to help them with some of the demons they’re fighting,” Mills said. “I’ve had Marines come out and say thank you for helping create some memorable career experiences.”
The staff sergeant gamer would like the MCG community to be officially endorsed by the Marine Corps because its value and advantages cannot be understated, he said.
“I’m really hopeful that the Marine Corps will recognize the good work that we’re doing. And give us some support and be able to kind of make this thing official. Because I believe that gaming is going to be one of those force multipliers for the Marine Corps.”