In April, Army 1st Sgt. James Rowell will ship out for his third tour in Iraq. And in his Tuff Box, along with his other necessities, he'll pack his Xbox 360, his "Halo" games and his "Call of Duty 4," a military shooter.
"We take our gear down range – down range means deployed - and we have a lot of fun on our off-time," says Rowell, who lives in Olympia, Wash. "It really does help out the esprit de corps, and the morale of the enlisted personnel - and all personnel."
Rowell recalls with relish a time that he played a superior officer in "Halo 2." "I beat the crap out of him so bad, that he actually threw the controller out of his hands onto the ground, and walked away and wouldn't talk to me for two days," he says with a chuckle. "That's how intense it is."
"If ever there was a therapeutic use of video games it is with those 'down range' who go 'outside the wire' in combat," says Charles Figley, professor and director of the Psychological Stress Research Program at Florida State University. "Yes, indeed, video games are a way of calibrating and managing the overwhelming pulses of stress that comes with combat zone living."