News: International | Venezuelan Media
Grassroots Group Celebrates Delay of Game Attacking Venezuela
“The Venezuela Solidarity Network notes with pleasure that Pandemic Studios announced on Sept. 24, 2007 that it is delaying the release of its new video game Mercenaries 2: World at War which is set in Venezuela,” announced US Interim Coordinator Chuck Kaufman.
Pandemics’ planned release of Mercenaries 2 in time for the 2007 holiday buying season had created worldwide controversy since the story line involved a mercenary invasion of Venezuela when “a dictator messes with the oil supply,” complete with realistic video of Venezuela’s national oil company headquarters and residential neighborhoods in Caracas.
The US grassroots organization, Venezuela Solidarity Network (VSN), began an international campaign to convince Bono, lead singer of the Irish band U2, and one of the principal investors in Pandemics Studios, to stop the game or change its scenario to one less realistic. The Bush administration has already targeted Venezuela for “regime change” and has had an increasingly heated war of words with its elected president, Hugo Chavez.
Gunnar Gundersen, who coordinated the VSN campaign, is an Oregon grassroots activist married to a Venezuelan. “It still isn’t perfect,” Gunderson said. “I wouldn’t want my sons to buy it and blow up neighborhoods that we can clearly recognize where their cousins, aunts and uncles live. Still, at least the villain is no longer a Hugo Chavez look alike and the story line no longer mirrors actual international politics.
According to the Mercenaries 2 web site the villain is now a “corrupt businessman” who double crosses the mercenaries who are then bent on “personal revenge.” An additional fantasy twist includes an invasion by China. “At least no kid will be fooled into thinking he’s learning something about the real world,” said Kaufman. “However, the game is still incredibly violent and romanticizes mercenaries who, as we are seeing with the Blackwater scandal in Iraq, are not proper role models for children.”
A letter this spring from 50 US religious leaders to Bono, which was organized by the DC –based Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, apparently led Pandemics to reconsider the story line according to director Marie Dennis. “Bono never responded directly, but apparently our point hit home that financing a violent video game that targets a government already targeted by the Bush administration is counter to the reputation as a humanitarian that he has earned with his work on AIDS in Africa and debt relief. Pandemics began to change the story line soon after our letter was delivered,” Dennis said.
Jorge Marin, a Venezuela activist in the Boston Bolivarian Circle and active in the Venezuela Solidarity Network stated, “This isn’t a victory because Bono and Pandemics are still telling kids it’s okay to attack my home country, but it is progress and it wouldn’t have happened without public pressure.”
Published on Oct 2nd 2007 at 11.20am
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