As it turns out, despite various complaints from both parents and girlfriends alike, being an avid Call of Duty gamer can, in fact, lead to a bright future. So, ha! We were right all along. The biggest success story to date? John Duttenhofer, 24, from Colorado. The man travelled all the way to Syria last year to join the YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Units) and fight ISIS in Raqqa — a city that was eventually liberated from ISIS rule in October.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, John explained how his experience with video games as a teen prepared him for a real life battlefield, "Video games prepared me in a way for knowing strategies and how not to get killed, like how to use cover and not to stand in the open."
This isn't to suggest that all aspects of combat can be learned from virtual reality/simulations, but John makes a pretty convincing case that, at the very least, it's incredibly useful. He continued, "They (AK47s) weren't something I picked up because I was going out there to fight, but as a kid I played every day after school. I could sit down and put 13 hours in like it was nothing."
Now, beyond just understanding the basic tactical skills of warfare, you need to have a greater sense of purpose. To any gamer reading along, no, you can't just go to war because your CoD skills are unparalleled. For John, it was beyond the enjoyment of "killing bad guys" on screen.
He said, "On one hand, I selfishly wanted to fight ISIS. On the other I wanted to be a part of something that was historical and groundbreaking. I wasn't scared of dying or anything like that."
While John did return home safely to the United States on February 12, after spending a full six months fighting ISIS, his good friend and fellow volunteer, Jack Holmes (pictured above) was killed in battle. Between his friend's passing and Raqqa's liberation from ISIS, John had decided back in October that he would be returning home — he had been traveling in Europe up until now as a means of assimilating back into civilian culture.
He concluded, "It is like two worlds and I wanted to get the most out of one by being in it and actually fighting. Now I'm back in this world and I want to live to the fullest and enjoy everything."
To read the full interview with John, you can head on over to the Daily Mail.
Lead Image via Instagram/duttenhof