Kunsan adds X-Box systems for gaming fun
Stars and Stripes May 4, 2004
Despite the proliferation of morale and entertainment programs at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, airmen there still point to Osan Air Base and Yongsan Garrison as the prime military recreational outlets on the peninsula.
“Some might even call it the last true remote … tour, and there can be less to do here than other bases, certainly than Osan, or if you’re stationed in Seoul,” said 1st Lt. Herb McConnell, a Kunsan spokesman. “There’s just no doubt about it.”
But Kunsan just got a new diversion, the latest multiplayer, online gaming system called X-Box, with a choice of two genres — sports and action adventure.
Players sit at a console hooked up to a television, insert a compact disc and work a game pad fitted with two miniature joysticks, an arrow pad and eight buttons. And thanks to the Internet, airmen not only can play against friends in their unit, they can take on opponents anywhere in the world.
The game “interfaces with anyone who is on or connected to the Internet, if they also have the X-Box game system,” said McConnell. “So that’s why you can be sitting here at Kunsan and playing a game with your little brother in Brookville, Pa. And that concept is just pretty cool.”
In April, Kunsan’s 8th Services Squadron installed four of the systems in the Community Activities Center. Each features four game pad outlets, allowing up to 16 airmen to play at a time.
The center closed Friday for renovation but reopens Sunday.
“It’s set up like a living room,” said Staff Sgt. Michelle Jeffries of the 8th Services Squadron. “The couches are really comfortable and people can really relax. It’s like being at home.”
When two are playing, the screen splits. It’s divided into quadrants if four are playing.
“The system itself is around $170, online fees can be expensive, and the games cost between $40 and $50,” said Jeffries. “Our system allows airmen to play with friends from anywhere in the world, which is a very nice thing while in a short-tour location.”
Senior Airman David Gilbert of the 8th Maintenance Squadron is one of Kunsan’s X-Box fans.
“My favorite game is called Halo,” he said. “Halo is named after the planet that you are simulated to be on, and it has a ring around it like Saturn — except this ring is artificially created. And it turns out to be an evil weapon.
“I can get pretty in-depth. So if you’re not geeked-out like that, you might not get it at first.”
Action-adventure games are typically set up as if the player is looking through the eyes of the shooter or virtual character. Sports games are usually programmed from a spectator’s vantage point.
Bringing X-Box to Kunsan is part of an ongoing effort by the 8th Services Squadron to give airmen a wide mix of entertainment options, including off-base tours, sports weekends and construction of a state-of-the-art base gym.
“They’re always thinking of another option for entertainment for the troops here,” said McConnell, “and this sort of gaming is very engaging … it’s interactive … they can play with friends at home and it takes up some time — all great things when you’re on a short tour.”