Trucking company using video game billboards to recruit drivers

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(The Hill) – Transportation and logistics company Schneider National is going to new frontiers to find its next generation of truckers.

The company announced last week that it is partnering with video game “American Truck Simulator” to recruit drivers with virtual billboards.

“American Truck Simulator,” developed by Czech firm SCS Software, gives players a chance to head their own independent logistics firms. The first-person perspective puts the player in the virtual cockpit of real 18-wheeler as they drive across the American West hauling cargo, and if they want to avoid fines, obey traffic laws.

Advanced simulation monitors everything from brake bias to transmission changes, and the most dedicated players own complex control setups meant to mimic actual trucks, according to the game’s website.

On the roadside, players see billboards just like anyone does on the side of an interstate. But instead of advertisements for a fast food restaurant, upcoming gas station or a lawyer’s firm, the new virtual billboards are recruitment ads for Schneider National.

“We aim to provide opportunities that bring attention to interesting details organically within our game world — things of value and deeper meaning,” SCS Software said in a statement last week. “The introduction of Schneider National’s recruitment campaign further builds upon this vision.”

The virtual advertisements underscore the continuation of a truck driver shortage that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to hurt logistics companies worldwide.

The industry was 80,000 jobs short at it’s worst in 2021, the American Trucking Association estimated. That has improved some since, but the ripple effects of COVID can still be felt in the industry.

“American Truck Simulator,” has a small, dedicated fan base of about 5,000 players. But its sister game also developed by SCS Software — “Euro Truck Simulator 2” — has about 30,000 players at any time.

SCS Software said positive feedback from players about the Schneider National partnership has left the door open to further collaboration with “industry-related content” in both games.

Many of the players have so far praised the trucking games, even considering them to be relaxing and calming.

“It’s a lot of time that you can spend driving into the sunset or enjoying the countryside,” SCS Software CEO Pabel Sebor told The Washington Post. “And I think people just enjoy it.”

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