Friday, May 26, 2006

Propaganda hypersensitivity

A PS 3 game being developed, Mercenaries2: World in Flames, uses Venezuela as it's setting for an oil dispute with a "power hungary tyrant." From GameSpot :

Supporters of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of American policy, are not amused. "[Mercenaries 2] sends a message to Americans: You have a danger next door, here in Latin America, and action must be taken," said lawmaker Gabriela Ramirez. "It's a justification for an imperialist aggression." Ramirez also said that Mercenaries 2 could be banned from the country by laws intended to protect children from violent games.

Chavez isn't actually in the game, but those loyal to him believe the game intends to mar his image and that of the country by portraying it as a war-torn battle zone mired in chaos.

"I think the US government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later," said Venezuelan congressman Ismael Garcia.

This isn't the first time game designers' pursuit of realistic situations has angered a foreign government. Ubisoft's Ghost Recon 2 was called "propaganda" by a government-run newspaper in North Korea. "This may be just a game to them now," the article read, "but a war will not be a game for them later. In war, they will only face miserable defeat and gruesome deaths." Ubisoft's development went on as planned, and North Korea eventually banned the game.

Problem is, this game isn't being developed by the US government. Ubisoft's headquarters is in France, and it's CEO is a man named Yves Guillemot. Not exactly a member of the Bushitler/Rovian propaganda machine. But, even more shocking to me than the assertion that the US government is using video games in a modern day version of Goebbels weekly articles for Das Reich, is the thought that they actually have video games in North Korea. They don't have lights but they have Playstations?

Regardless, the idea that children would have their image of Venezuela and Chavez marred by a video game would have a bit more validity if the kids could 1) locate Venezuela on a map, and 2) match up the unnamed "power hungary tyrant" character with Chavez. Given that one-third of American (or, excuse me, United Stater) kids can't locate Louisiana on a map, even after a major disaster, I'm betting that the numbers who can find Venezuela might be in the single digits.