August 03, 2021

New CNAS Paper Explores How the Military is Tapping into the Popular World of Electronic Sports

Washington, August 3, 2021 — Engaging 495 million viewers in 2020 alone, electronic sports—video games played like competitive sport online—are an increasingly valuable tool for the U.S. military as it seeks to expand outreach and recruitment efforts across the country.

Esports and the Military,” a new white paper published today by the Center for a New American Security’s Military, Veterans, and Society Program examines the growing relationship between the U.S. military and Esports, highlighting the natural connection between the two communities, and explaining the role of esports in recruitment and veteran-serving nonprofits.

Using publicly available data through the military community, veterans community, and electronic sports community, authors Elizabeth Howe, Elena LoRusso, and Emma Moore identify several trends that will inform policymaking and organizational outreach for the future. Key recommendations for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran-serving organizations, and esports companies to best integrate this relationship include:

  • The military services can better use data analytics from esports to build online rapport with a broader audience of potential recruits, including women.
  • The VA and veteran-serving nonprofits can offer community gaming and esports spaces in VA centers and in VSO chapters and posts to support the younger generation of veterans.
  • Esports companies can consider investing in the online community-building component of electronic sports.

CNAS would like to acknowledge and thank Comcast NBC Universal for its support of this research project.

For more information on the work of CNAS’ Military, Veterans, and Society program or to speak to the authors of this report, please contact Sydney Simon at