Group Petitions Bono to Cancel Mercs 2 Over Venezuelan Missions

March 23, 2007 -

As reported by GameSpot, a group calling itself the Venezuelan Solidarity Network has called on U2 frontman, activist and investor Bono to stop production of Pandemic's upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

Bono, of course, is a principle with venture capital firm Elevation Partners, a major investor in Pandemic/Bioware Studios. As described by GameSpot's Tim Surette:
 

(Mercs 2) follows guns for hire as they help topple a "power hungry tyrant" in Venezuela. While no real names are used, protestors see the plot as a clear parallel to the Unites States' troubled relationship with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and are labeling the shooter as anti-Venezuela propaganda.


The Venezuelan Solidarity Network is collecting support and signatures from a variety of religious leaders urging the cancellation of Mercs 2. A letter from the group says:


 

The aim of the video game is full devastation, so any 'person' who moves should be 'shot,' and all the buildings, such as the headquarters of PDVSA, the Venezuelan public oil company, can be 'destroyed.' Our concern is that this game will only deepen an already antagonistic relationship between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. Millions of Venezuelans fear an invasion from the U.S.; knowing that a company that works for the US military has created a game in which their country is completely destroyed will increase those concerns.


The U.S. military reference refers to Pandemic's work on Full Spectrum Warrior. In addition to the popular commercial version of FSW, Pandemic created a military version for training in squad-level tactics.

Of the controversy, a Pandemic exec told GameSpot:
 

While we're flattered that people think Mercenaries 2 is a commentary on the real world, it is just a video game... More to the point, the characters are categorically not based on any real political figures in Venezuela or elsewhere.

Comments

There's also the crusades, no need to elaborate.

Considering all historical proof of violence caused by fundamentalist movements, yeah, I would say that banning bibles would be more than reasonable.

But consider this: even if all games were banned, we would see no drop in violence, wars and all other world evils attributed to games (I would bet we would see even MORE violence). If all bibles were banned, the fundamentalist movement of religions wouldn't cease to exist, because you don't need a book to brainwash people. Fundamentalists would raise their children as fundamentalists, generation after generation. It's more of a family way of life. And the bible, well, it merely serves as a tool to get a more or less adequate quote and twist it's meaning to serve whatever purpose it's called for. When someone say "God wills it" or something similar, better duck for cover.

Perhaps you haven't seen it, but there's an entry around here about a study that points correlation between reading the bible (specifically passages with violence, I believe) and agressiveness. Although I find the construction of the study flawed in many aspects, but the result is an ironic "yes, there's a correlation". But that's something we don't need to research to know. There's plenty of proof around.

You're right. Religious fundamentalists are the problem. Up here in Canada, (at least where I live) they are seen as ridiculous, so we don't have too much of a problem with them.

Although, I would have to say that the fundamentalist movement is a perfect excuse to ban bibles. They persecute just about everyone. There has been well documented instances of violence leading to death due to religious persecution (just off the top of my head... the inquisition?). I'm sure there is more of a correlation between people reading the bible and violence than playing video games.

if that intrest you, I'm using toko for WYSIWYG (it's a free one)... http://toko-contenteditor.pageil.net

Reality Check.

The United States of America sponsored a coup d'etat in Venezuela in April 2002 and came within minutes of assassinating President Hugo Chavez. This is hardly a case of the Greeks fighting the Persians in ancient times.

Let's imagine a videogame company based in Tehran that produces a game called "Mercenaries 3: DC in Flames". It is backed by a consortium of wealthy business people and entertainment types in the Middle East. They have full access to SONY, EA, and distributors that will get the game out in Best Buy, WalMart, Circuit City, etc. The object of the game is the assassination of the U.S. President, the devastation of the U.S. military and the takeover of the U.S. economy. In the course of the game, it is encouraged to destroy as much of the country's infrastructure as possible (with many famous landmarks taken out - some by nuclear weapons). Also, innocent people are slaughtered by the thousands.

Would Pandemic produce such a game? Highly unlikely. If it did, what would the response be in the media and by the public?

This is clearly a piece of propaganda, well orchestrated by a company that has clear ties with the Bush Administration and the Pentagon.

Are we so arrogant as to think that everything produced in a the USA is immune from rational critique and analysis.

We are indeed a very ethnocentric and narrow-minded people.

Awesome, they fear our video games. It would send a stream of salty yellow down their collective legs if we even mentioned anything about real military action.
"Hey Hugo, we are invading next month, SIKE!!!, did you poop your pants?"

What would the point of a game that has you destroying a first world country be? What is the players motivations for doing so?

@ Spekkio

Try playing Rainbow 6 (the first one) or SWAT 4...

Lots of First World people being badguys in those two.

Disclaimer: I'm all for free speech and I will always oppose efforts by groups/government to needlessly censor things.

That said, I'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment, and I look forward to seeing what people have to say.

1. People have mentioned that Nazis are fair game and that numerous games have allowed gamers to slaughter those evildoers. (For that matter, Nazis are still a mainstay villain in the Marvel universe. Nazis make great villains because the things they did were unforgivable.) However, as I understand these matters, Germany doesn't care too much for anything that serves of a reminder of their dark past and has censored many of these games. Thoughts?

2. If a game company made a game where your objective was to destroy all or part of a "first world country," (US/UK/Canada/Japan, etc), how would you feel about it? Digging a little harder: what about a 9/11 simulator? What about a game that allowed you to simulate terrorist attacks on Washington/London/Ottawa/Tokyo? (That would surely cause more of a ruckus than "Super Columbine Massacre RPG" did!)

Here ends the devil's advocate part, and now for something different...isn't it interesting that, in the mainline Marvel universe, almost all of the dangerous groups/nations are almost totally fictional? They're never worried about North Korea or Iran - it's always Latveria or Genosha. And there's not much talk of al-Qaeda - it's HYDRA, the Maggia, the Hand, the Brotherhood of Mutants, etc. And yet, I would argue, the writers of the Marvel universe manage to often write wonderful political allegories into their work.

@ vellocet

I would agree with you, but the problem is that the religious opinion is a rule for the believers. I know there are religious people who are reasonable enough to believe but respect the freedom of the next individual to believe whatever they wish. But not the fundamendalists, who want everyone to live by THEIR ideals, dogmas, truths and divine revelations. And the fundamentalists are the vocal group, and the ones who are able to cause damage. See the controversy on the HPV vaccine, or "the Lexicon", a book on rules of the church on certain issues, such as the forbiddance of use of preservatives - something taught with an unhealthy fervor in countries plagued by AIDS in Africa.

Of course, we shouldn't be discussing religion, but it's a demonstration on how much damage religions (any and all of them) can do on any issue simply because a large mass won't even question whatever BS is fed to them. No wonder freedom of culture and expression suffer.

Greetings friends, im back again.

Ugh...people are freaking dumb. I dont want to even spend time on this topic, as it is already blown way out of porportion. Its a fucking game. I'm sure everyone plays BF2 and alot of WWII games.

Hmmmmmmmm GERMANY IS STILL HERE, CHINA is still here.

In terms of the first Merc. Korea is still there...right? OH but wait guys!!! Korea is so far away, the average american cant get to Korea!!! But venezuela...guys...its RIGHT THERE. Lots go take it over wooooh. /sarcaism

I'm really really scared that people are starting to make outlandish claims about the US and video games. That a person in HIGH power would even THINK to say stuff like:

"our concern is that this game will only deepen an already antagonistic relationship between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. Millions of Venezuelans fear an invasion from the U.S."

Thats almost as bad as the Iranian president saying that the holocaust never happened. Its all a lie guys.

@Korax
They should be allowed to have their say, just not be allowed to infringe upon the choices that anyone else can make. ESPECIALLY because it has nothing to do with them. Just like atheists have no say in how Bible studies have to do with Catholics.

I have no problem with Catholics. I have some friends who are very devout. I don't tell them what to believe, and they don't tell me what to believe. We can have friendly discourse on the matter, but one thing we agree on is that one side should not restrict the right for the other to believe it.

"Millions of Venezuelans fear an invasion from the U.S..."

Yeah well, they developed Destroy All Humans too. Millions of Americans fear an invasion by sarcastic aliens with overpowered weaponry, but you don't see us crying, do you?

@ Joshua

Yeah, I remember that one. I'm brazillian and I think that episode was quite funny. "Pink money", I laughed hard on that one, after in our country currency the 10 "reais" bill is pink :P

I also think that the Brazilian Tourism board are idiots for complaining about it, but at least they had their reasons on the issue.

@ vellocet

That's why I think religions shouldn't put their finger on ANY matter at all, or we will return to the dark ages in no time. Plus, I like your idea about atheists and bibles.

@ Terminator44

Imagine we, that live so close to this stupidity.

We're talking about a country ruled by a man...

Who will be ruling autocratically for the next year and a half due to the "rule by decree" bill.

Under which Venezuela has seen some of the highest violent crime rates in the world. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/09/AR200605...)

Who has, time and again, silenced critics in the media (http://www.freemedia.at/cms/ipi/freedom_detail.html?country=/KW0001/KW00...).

Whose heavy-handed price controls have led to widespread food shortages in the country (http://www.agweekly.com/articles/2007/03/01/news/ag_news/news59.txt).

Yes, this game is sure the be the thing that ruins Venezuela's reputation, not the actions of its leader.

"The Venezuelan Solidarity Network is collecting support and signatures from a variety of religious leaders urging the cancellation of Mercs 2"

I find it very disturbing that people who have no interest in the game, who would never play the game, who have no actual knowledge of the game, who otherwise (were it not a political topic) would not have any opinion about the game be allowed to dictate whether or not people who want to play the game can play it. Granted this is Venezuela, but it's very similar to what is happening in the world at large.

What if atheists were allowed to dictate whether or not the bible should be sold?

It better not be canceled, this is one of my most anticipated games! Maybe Bono should sever ties with Pandemic for awhile.

This vaguely reminds me of when the Brazilian Tourism board got upset when The Simpsons depicted monkeys attacking people - "I am like sugar to them." - and thought that because of The Simpsons tourism would drop.

I'm wondering who we can use as bad guys in video games and movies these days. North Koreans are still reasonable villians. US uber patriot groups are fair game i.e. Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Evil government agencies are fair game. There's still an open season on Nazis, aliens, and zombies.

Personally I think that there's no reason to set games in international hot spots. There's a serious potential for gamers who may not know or care about what's going on in the world to tune in a bit if they know the game is based in truth. A gritty urban combat game set in Nuevo Laredo fighting against blood thirsty gangs seems like a reasonable premise to me.

At least I can finally stop litsening to that overrated U2 thing in the future.....

I hope Pandemic has the brass ones to not put up with this BS. First, if Bono is swayed by this nonsense, I hope is willing to cop to the lost capital investment in developing the game out of his own pocket. Second, even if Bono leans on them, what's the worst that could happen? I'm sure other investment capitalist groups would love to buy them out if Bono pulls funding or something.

Anyway, what a crock. Try fixing the real problems the citizens of Venezula have, and not scapegoating a game.

Ah, lovely.

This is almost as embarrassing as the Iranians complaining about the movie 300.

"xzero87 Says:
March 23rd, 2007 at 8:20 am
Starting to see a disturbing trend here.. seems like the whole world is starting to have trouble telling fact from fiction. Why do people react this way to video games so often, and fictional books, TV shows, movies, etc so much less?"

That's because people adore scapegoats and are too cowardly to face their own problems.

Well, as a resident of a south american country (not Venezuela), I can say that Hugo Cháves IS indeed a power hungry tyrant. He uses the money he gets from the extraction of petroleum to buy influence in other countries in SA, and likely seeks to segregate those who won't go after his socialist BS. He also cancelled concession of the venezuelan national tv station because they criticized his actions. And, on top of everything, he is ruling by decree for 18 months. If that's not a power hungry dictator, I don't know what it is.

Of course, my opinion of the game is pretty much why can't a game storyline be based on current events and real people, or parodies of said people? Movies do it. Books do it. Once again, single out teh ev1l g4m3z. I hope Pandemic has the guts to resist the pressure and make the game, because we don't have to bow to this ridiculous persecution.

Dear fools
I am sorry your think your leader might be a dictator but ,its not our fault so don't whine to us.

I've played the first Mercenaries and I haven't decimated half of North Korea yet, end of discussion.

Starting to see a disturbing trend here.. seems like the whole world is starting to have trouble telling fact from fiction. Why do people react this way to video games so often, and fictional books, TV shows, movies, etc so much less?

Oh come on.. Ridiculous. This statement is already similarly thought of in regards to North Korean/South Korea in the first one...

Just because Pandemic adds the capacity to cause mass devastation on absolutely everything, doesn't mean that it's an attempt to suggest that the US is going to go on a rampage for 'the Lulz" because of the game. People are going to do whatever they want to do, for whatever the reason, and just saying 'no' in a game removes a certain degree of realism and game play freedom.

If it wasn't in South America, it'd be somewhere else. Hell, I wouldn't even have a problem if Mercenaries 3 occurred somewhere in Canada.... >_> Fussing over the fact that some writer's are lazy and don't want to use some backwater ex-soviet state as his story setting, doesn't mean we have to get up in arms about it being "OMG! Hate Propaganda!".

It's just a silly little game, which the developers probably just picked names out of a hat to pick a country to send ExOps to.. Nothing to fuss over.

I'm looking forward to seeing wha bono has to say about this :P

well thats if he can be bothered to say something but he likes the sound of his own voice so I'm sure he'll have something to say on it soon enough.

But yeah venezuela really needs to get it's priorities in order

Its a game people. If you don't want people thinking you are drug lord controlled country, then change your country. A video game will not start a war. Declaration of war is not controlled by young adults that will be playing this game. The legislative and Executive branches of our government declare war and they will not base a decision on a video game.

Hugo Chavez is worried, with some justification, that this will promote Anti-Venezuala feelings in the US.

Bush is already unhappy that his Coup did not work, and so it's not so hard to imagine him or his government using this as propaganda.

However, to think that a game can change the world is very narrow minded.

@Knottymars:
How do you know pee is salty, oy? Did you actually... EXPERIMENT?!
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! And pee obviously isn't just yellow. It can be from brown(Don't put your health in danger just to see that) to clear as transparency, oy. LOL!

Re:

He cancelled the TV station because they told the people to go out and depose him.

Imagine if the BBC in Britain, or CBS in America started broadcasting instructions, meeting points and strategies to take down the government by force? There would be consequences, and rightly so.

EDIT: What? How come when I clicked the right guy twice, each time it made it a reply to the bottom post?

Re:

*replied to wrong person

 
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