For most, games are a pleasant time-wasting diversion, an interactive mini-vacation from life's daily grind. For others, they are nothing but a way for governments to plant seeds into the minds of citizens in order to indoctrinate an imperialist attitude.
The others, in this case, are certain lawmakers in Venezuela, who the Associated Press reports are furiously opposed to a new shooter from Pandemic Studios. The game is Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, currently in development for the PlayStation 3.
In the game, players drop into Venezuela to help settle an oil dispute, take on "a power hungry tyrant," and blow up lots and lots of stuff. Though Mercenaries 2 is based on a fictional scenario, the plot is "realistic enough to believe that it could actually happen," a Pandemic rep told the AP.
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.