Vice, founded as a punk zine in 1994, is now a major global brand with a network of television, documentary and digital production studios, an online hub, magazine, record label, publishing house and advertising agency. It's notorious for brash exposition and unapologetic presentation, finding the dark yet honest angle in its productions.
Vice has taken on Bethesda's Dishonored as its first attempt to market a single product, and while it doesn't have to dig far to find the dirt in an assassination video game, it managed to take the "revenge" angle in an unexpected direction, as noted by Gapers Block. Vice filmed Chicago Interrupted, a documentary chronicling the violence-prevention group Cure Violence as its members attempt to diffuse dangerous street situations, ending with a plea for America to not become desensitized.
Chicago Interrupted begins with an advertisement for Dishonored, whose tagline is "Revenge solves everything," and the documentary was featured on Eye for an Eye, Vice's multimedia project to market the game, before being pulled yesterday. Part one is embedded above and still features the Bethesda and Dishonored intro.
One of Dishonored's draws is the ability to play the entire game in stealth mode, without killing anyone, but it is an action assassination game at heart. Perhaps the juxtaposition of real-world violence is supposed to make us think twice about killing people in-game, but that street travels both ways. Showing how fun it is to slit people's throats in the digital realm right before chronicling the grim reality of violence marks the very desensitization Cure Violence stands against.
As gaming becomes an increasingly mainstream endeavor, new companies will handle its subject matter in various ways to find a sweet spot of marketing and social sensitivity. Vice may have just stumbled on one of those thresholds.