A group calling itself the Venezuela Solidarity Network has issued a press release celebrating news that Pandemic’s Mercenaries 2: World in Flames has been pushed from EA’s holiday release schedule.
According to the GameStop website, Mercs 2 is now set for a February, 2008 launch.
In March, the VSN petitioned Bono, a major Pandemic investor, to block release of Mercs 2, claiming it would deepen existing tensions between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. Said Gunnar Gundersen, who coordinated the protest:
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.
Chuck Kaufman, another spokesman for the group, added:
At least no kid will be fooled into thinking he’s learning something about the real world. 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.
The VSN also claimed that Pandemic changed the game’s story line in response to pressure from a variety of organizations. Marie Dennis, of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, said:
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.
Activist Jorge Marin added:
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.