Generally a good article, but I have to disagree with this last part:
The rise of military contractors is indeed an emerging trend
There is no rise or emerging trend. Mercenaries have been a huge part of warfare for as long as warfare has existed. For much of human history, they've been by far the dominant part of wars. Ancient Egypt and Greece, Carthage, Rome, Ancient China right up to the Warlord period and the foundation of modern China, the Varangian guard, Swiss guards, the Landsknechts, privateers, ronin, the list is endless. And given that some of these play large parts in various video games it's not like they should be unknown here - Total War, any Paradox grand strategy - Crusader Kings 2 in particular showcasing mercenary companies, Civilisation, Mount and Blade, pretty much any game based on any historical period makes it clear that mercenaries have always been around. About the only time I can think of where mercenaries were a bit less prevalent is the early 20th century, since most people who could have been mercenaries were instead conscripted into national armies in the world wars. But even then there were still mercenaries around, including some particularly famous ones such as the Flying Tigers.
So no, the rise of military contractors is not in any way an emerging trend, it's simply a continuation of how things have been for thousands of years since we first invented war and money and decided to combine the two. The only thing that's new is the use of the term "military contractor".
You know, as soon as I saw it was an open letter to Activision, I knew it was going to be bad. For the sake of Vice and 72andSunny, I just hope they were rushed and pressured by Activision to push this advertisement/documentary/trailer out the door as soon as possible and make it as sensational as possible (for a game that hasn't launched yet and its predecessor only launched 6 months ago.) I'd imagine the thought process went something like this: we commission a very sensational video that will get a bunch of headlines knowing we're big enough to weather any negative press because their core CoD audience isn't aware enough to care one way or the other. I'd like to think practices like this and the worse crap Activision has done in the past will eventually blow up in their face, but we all know it won't. Just a blip in the games news radar that will eventually get drowned out by everything else.
Great Article. Critical Intel is fast becoming my favourite feature on the Escapist. Well researched, factual, focused on good journalism and always tries to offer insight to game related topics that many people aren't aware of.
Which is more than can be said for the advertisement in question.
Im not really going to blame Activision on that, its not their thing to do documentaries, Vice on the other hand usually does shit like this so I'll put my money on them (even if its just a build up for the game).
It probably says something bad about me that this article filled my head with ideas for Shadowrun encounters, right?
Excellent article, must share this. It's too bad millions of people might be potentially misinformed thanks to this propaganda piece.