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.