Since before the days of Contra, two-player cooperative gameplay has been a big draw for gamers. Violence is best when shared, and working with your best friend to blow up bad guys somehow just feels right. EA is trying to recapture that sense of cooperation with its upcoming Xbox 360 and PS3 title Army of Two. You play half of a mercenary duo that must work together to perform various paramilitary tasks, with your partner controlled either by a friend or by the game's A.I.
Like nearly every major publisher tries to do with nearly every major upcoming title, EA is trying to drum up as much attention as possible for Army of Two. As part of its campaign, EA mailed fliers to various media outlets advertising the game. That alone isn't exactly unique or new, or even all that interesting. The really weird bit is the political message the fliers carried:
Did you know...
One company alone, Blackwater USA, currently has $500MM+ in government contracts-- not including their secret "black" budget operations.
As of 2003 the protection of America's most senior officials in Iraq has been conducted by Private Military Contractors.
In 2004, under the decree of Order 17, all PMCs hired on government contracts were immune to prosecution.
These are all very real statements. Blackwater USA is a real firm (that has nothing to do with Army of Two) that does paramilitary contract work for the U.S. government in Iraq. The firm also assisted with security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Order 17 actually does essentially make Blackwater and other contractors immune to prosecution in Iraq.
This is really strange to read in promotional material for a video game. EA's Army of Two mailing reads more like the closing credits of a Michael Moore movie than a flier for an upcoming PS3/360 game. Army of Two looks like it could be a very fun, cooperative shooter, but these mailings are a very odd choice on EA's part. Still, I have to respect their attempts to educate the gaming media on sensitive subjects like the government's use of paramilitary firms. The more you learn...
If the text isn't enough, here's the mailing itself, sitting on my desk.