Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Revenge Killing in the City
September 19, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Following on the heels of a bloody summer in Chicago, Vice Magazine has partnered with CeaseFire for a new documentary on violence interrupters. The purpose of this documentary? To help promote Bethseda software's new videogame, Eye for an Eye, based on revenge killing. Previous work on this subject includes The Interrupters, which did not have a videogame tie-in.
posted by dinty_moore (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh, WTF. That's super shitty and shady on Vice's part.

(Just a note, the videogame is actually called Dishonored. Eye for an Eye is I guess the name of the Vice promotional campaign for it.)
posted by kmz at 8:47 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


so then it's not a documentary...it's a PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
posted by spicynuts at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2012


Just when you think that safe, secure, middle class, thrill-seeking, mostly-but-not-exclusively white people have plumbed the depths of self-centering tackiness and lack of empathy, they go and prove you wrong yet again.

Oh well, at least this makes me feel better about yesterday's "Global Warming Is Worse Than Expected; We're All Gonna Die" post. If there's one good thing about our new ocean overlords the jellyfish, it's that they don't have exploitative first-person shooters.
posted by Frowner at 8:51 AM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure it's that shady, since the website is pretty clear about the fact that they're promoting the game. This is obviously not saying that it isn't in poor taste.

It is, however, weird, since the game seems like a run of the mill revenge plot game, that doesn't have much to do with violence prevention. I was sort of hoping for a game that put the player in the role of a violence interrupter or similar, but that seems not to be the case.

Just when you think that safe, secure, middle class, thrill-seeking, mostly-but-not-exclusively white people have plumbed the depths of self-centering tackiness and lack of empathy, they go and prove you wrong yet again.

I have no idea what this has to do with white people or middle class people or thrill seekers. This seems to be about one company, Vice, promoting another company's, Bethesda, product in a tacky way.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:53 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just a note, the videogame is actually called Dishonored

Ah, you're right! I was scanning the gaper's article to double check it, hit upon the fourth paragraph, and accidentally switched it.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2012


Hmm. Based on the videos and stories that are part of the campaign, it seems more like Vice's brief is to come up with a lot of material on the topic of revenge. The focus certainly isn't on Chicago. It's just the latest in a series of documentaries based loosely around that theme.

I haven't watched it, and I'm not going to while I'm at work. Is it actually in poor taste, or only if you know where the funding for it came from?
posted by figurant at 9:05 AM on September 19, 2012


If you presented this scenario to me without letting me know it was nonfiction, I would have guessed that Charlie Brooker wrote it.
posted by gusandrews at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it actually in poor taste, or only if you know where the funding for it came from?

Well, to start with, to watch the documentary, you have to sit through a commercial for Dishonored, and to find the documentary in the first place, you have to look through Dishonored's promo materials. The actual documentary seems to be okay, but I don't think you can divorce the funding clearly from the work.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:14 AM on September 19, 2012


After reading the Gaper's Block article I was pissed at Vice, but actually looking at the Eye For An Eye website made me reconsider. This could've been way more tacky and manipulative, but it's pretty low-key. Bethesda basically just sponsored Vice to make some editorial/photo/videojournalism loosely centered around the theme of revenge, and Vice is approaching that in a variety of ways (one of which is a multi-part documentary on Chicago violence interrupters - one of the more interesting and engaging topics they could've chosen given their task). The game itself is likely to be more than just a stupid bloody revenge game (it's produced by the development team behind the non-mindless Arx Fatalis, and Bethesda games are usually pretty smart and complex.) Do we vet every commercial in this same way (Call of Duty commercial during a news episode about the casualties in Iraq!)
posted by naju at 9:17 AM on September 19, 2012


I have no idea what this has to do with white people or middle class people or thrill seekers. This seems to be about one company, Vice, promoting another company's, Bethesda, product in a tacky way.

It has to do with what I, a white middle class person, believe to be a chronic lack of empathy among people like me, many of whom appear to work at Vice. (I mean, they're hipster-ish-er and richer than me, but that's the narcissism of small differences.)

I say this quite seriously, because it's something that I have realized about myself over and over again and each time with deeper understanding: people who are raised, like me, in relative security and privilege rarely have the emotional range or take the time to seriously sit with the fact of real deaths and violence and fear in a community. Even when we think we're being sympathetic, we're often being lightweight and shallow - that's something I've had to accept about myself over and over.

Actual communities are being haunted by these real, violent deaths. Actual little kids are walking around in neighborhoods where these deaths (and let's not forget the police shootings) are going on. Actual parents have to explain these things to their kids in a way that helps the kids to stay safe without being too terrifying. Many of these people probably have to realize that the richer and whiter people who call many of society's shots and to whom society caters are at best clueless and at worst hostile to their pain. I mean, that's got to fuck with your head!

I live in a neighborhood which has had episodes of violence. One thing I've realized is that I am mentally at one remove from most of it - I see it, but I am emotionally relatively untouched (not to mention mostly pretty safe). The other day there was a metafilter post about a white activist who was murdered by al-Qaeda in Palestine, and I realized that I was more distressed by that (and I was pretty distressed, it flipped me right out - I know people who go to Palestine) than I am by things that have happened blocks from my home - because that person is more like me and my friends than my neighbors are. That's my headspace, and a shitty headspace it is.

It's cold-hearted to muster images of classed and raced violence as part of a brief to promote a video game. I argue that people like me find it easy to be cold-hearted in certain ways, and I find a great deal of both self- and other-disgust in that fact.
posted by Frowner at 9:21 AM on September 19, 2012 [15 favorites]


Do we vet every commercial in this same way (Call of Duty commercial during a news episode about the casualties in Iraq!)

We don't, but the nightly news isn't produced in direct association with a marketing campaign for Call of Duty.



Disclosure: I am the publisher of Gapers Block, and edited the article in question.
posted by me3dia at 9:21 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It could have had Gangnam style dancing but it didn't.
posted by srboisvert at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would be better if the game didn't sound like one huge revenge fantasy. I mean, according to the article, the tagline is 'Revenge solves everything'. It does feel pretty tasteless to make a documentary about real-world revenge-killings while using it to promote a game that seems designed to promote the idea that revenge killing is awesome.

Then again, I suppose Vice could have subverted that marketing goal and produced a good documentary about how revenge killing is horrible and a serious problem. In that case, the tastelessness would appear to be more on Bethesda's part, using materials like that to promote a game that contradicts that message directly. Or maybe the game handles the concept of revenge in a more mature and appropriate manner than it immediately appears. Bethesda has some decent writers, so it's not impossible, but it really doesn't look like it from the game's promotional materials so far.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:34 AM on September 19, 2012


There's a pretty good longform article on the designers behind Dishonored:

Over the next 20 years, their resumes will include stints working with companies like EA, Valve, Origin, Ion Storm, 2K Games, Activision, Ubisoft, Looking Glass, and Midway. Separately, they will help build games like System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Thief, Dark Messiah, Relentless and Arx Fatalis.
Given that some of these games have relatively deeper storylines, there might be more to Dishonored than just some revenge killing spree.
posted by destrius at 9:58 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Try to remember that the dev team in all probability did not write the tagline, and that taglines are not always the distilled essence of a thing.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:03 AM on September 19, 2012


While that tagline is pretty wretched, Dishonored, when released, will be one of a tiny handful of combat based games in which it is possible to complete the entire game without killing anyone. Granted, that doesn't mean you're handing out flowers and wine instead of killing people, and it is of course possible to go through the game as bloodily as any Call of Duty game, but it is super rare that a game like this even provides a nonlethal option. And I have to say, they could have used their promotional budget in a much more typical fashion. The fact that Vice was even allowed the option to do something with that money that doesn't just mindlessly promote a game's violence but instead gives the subject even the most shallow (I have not watched the video) of a more nuanced treatment is pretty remarkable.
posted by Caduceus at 10:54 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm planning on buying the game, because, as with Deus Ex HR, there's apparently a way to get through it without killing anyone and I love that the developers stuck that in for people who want a challenge.

This is an amazingly shitty promo campaign.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2012


You don't, for instance, see Call of Duty promotional money going toward documentaries about the horror and futility of war.
posted by Caduceus at 11:20 AM on September 19, 2012


Sorry, meant to add, the documentary is a great idea. Tying it to this particular game is a bad idea.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:20 AM on September 19, 2012


The campaign actually has me wondering whether Dishonored will do some sophisticated stuff with implicating the player in guilt and introspection (and the title also seems to imply that) - so in that sense I think it's pretty successful for my interest in the game. Reading the longform article posted upthread has me even more excited.
posted by naju at 11:24 AM on September 19, 2012


safe, secure, middle class, thrill-seeking, mostly-but-not-exclusively white people

Please don't paint all white people this way. They're white, secure Montrealers.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:38 PM on September 19, 2012


Ugh, video game marketing strikes again. I've actually been looking forward to Dishonored for quite some time (even preordered it, which I don't normally do).

It's worth pointing out, as others have above, that it's intended to be an infiltration game along the lines of Deus Ex and Thief, not (necessarily) a bloody revenge fantasy. The number of people that get horribly murdered is entirely up to the player, and this number can be zero. Bethesda really seem to be playing up the tasteless violence angle, though. Between this and the preorder bonus nonsense their promotional campaign has been leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by neckro23 at 1:25 PM on September 19, 2012


At first I thought it was meant in a "compare and contrast" kind of way: Revenge solves everything in a video game and in the real world it's the complete opposite. But now it seems like a cynical ploy. Not the breaking up fights through snacking video game I was hoping for.
posted by yoHighness at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2012


« Older Trains in Switzerland's Ticino canton filmed with ...  |  Science of Eating Disorders is... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments