A strange advertisement, the effects of which are likely to be as beneficial as they are harmful. The national gendarmerie has just released a promotional video on its social networks, the stated aim of which is to recruit new personnel. The 300-year-old institution is seeking to fill the 12,000 recruitments it makes each year, for positions such as “forensic biologist”, “digital technologies investigator”, or “real estate manager”, as it indicates on his site. Jobs that are sometimes considered unsexy by young people, despite being the main targets of the gendarmerie.
To attract them, the armed force put a 38-second video clip online on its networks inspired by the codes of the successful war video game Call of Duty. The logo visible at the top left of the sticker, “GN III” for “Gendarmerie Nationale 3”, even copies that of the last opus of the saga, Modern Warfare 3 (MW III), released at the beginning of the month.
Parading like the characters we choose at the start of the game, four gendarmes are featured and appear on the screen in turn. The first is a mobile gendarme, helmeted and wearing a gas mask around his neck. The second is an “investigator” and the third a “investigator”, dressed in a simple vest. As for the fourth, he is an “observer”, hooded in green camouflage fatigues.
The latter completes the intentions of the gendarmerie, which presents its agents as “skins” to unlock. “No need to spend money to get the best skins,” writes the gendarmerie. In Call of Duty, as in many titles whose main interest is online multiplayer, players have the possibility of purchasing "skins", in other words in-game characters or outfits, to personalize the game. avatar that they embody during their games.
Innovative, the video is already a success on X (formerly Twitter): it was viewed 1.8 million times this Monday at 8 p.m., compared to 1.5 million two hours earlier. But it also attracts countless criticism. Some Internet users point to a “very clumsy advertisement”, which “compares the real world to the virtual world”. “I can’t wait for the police to behave like FPS (First Person Shooter) players,” wrote one of them. “We spend our time telling our kids to take a step back from what they see in the films and what they do in the JV, and you come up with these kinds of messages?”, publishes another.
Others recall Emmanuel Macron's short sentence on the occasion of the riots following Nahel's death: "We have the feeling that some (rioters) are living in the street with video games that have intoxicated them," he said. declared at the end of June. “Double standards, sometimes video games “are evil” but it’s also good for recruiting,” reacts an X user.
Finally, some reactions criticize the choice of the copied game, Call of Duty, which puts players in the shoes of soldiers whose objective is to kill members of the enemy team: “There is absolutely nothing weird in comparing the work of law enforcement to games where you have to kill people,” quips a final internet user.
Another problematic point: the promotion by the police of microtransactions, considered by many players to be one of the scourges of the industry. They allow players to treat themselves to virtual outfits or weapons in exchange for real money: the publisher of Call of Duty, Activision, sells “skins” on the Modern Warfare 3 online store that can cost up to at several dozen euros, even though the base game is already officially priced at 79.99 euros.
Fortnite, another successful shooting game, was also fined $520 million in the United States for its questionable commercial practices: the Federal Trade Commission, notably responsible for enforcing consumer law, had accused the game of maintaining “obscure patterns” so that purchases are made easier, particularly with young children.