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.

By Venezuela Solidarity Network
Short URL

“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.

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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.”