U2's Bono Asked to Cancel Mercenaries 2

By Chris Faylor, Mar 22, 2007 10:15am PDT Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and his supporters have been quite vocal in their dissatisfaction that the events of Pandemic Studios' free-roaming destruct-a-thon Mercenaries 2: World in Flames--set for release this fall on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC--take place in a virtual recreation of Venezuela. With those past complaints having little tangible effect, the Venezuela Solidarity Network is now asking religious leaders and secular-minded individuals to petition a seemingly unlikely target: U2 lead singer Bono.

Why Bono? The singer is a partner in Elevation Partners, the firm that acquired Bioware and Pandemic Studios in 2005, meaning Bono is in part funding development of the game. The VSN hopes that Bono's connection to Pandemic and his "efforts to erase the plagues of debt and famine from our planet" will give them the edge in their goal to "to see that 'Mercenaries 2' is pulled from stores and not sold anywhere."

Citing that "behavioral science research demonstrates that playing violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior," the VSN's letter states "a game like 'Mercenaries 2' in which the player assumes the role of killer in scenes that appear very life-like is even more likely to provoke aggressiveness." The group is also concerned "that the game inevitably will provoke increased tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela. Pandemic Studios has made a similar training game for the U.S. military. This fact is not overlooked by Venezuelans, who see this as further evidence of U.S. government hostility toward their country."

Mercenaries 2 "is just a video game--and as they say in the movies, all characters and events are purely fiction," Pandemic cofounder Josh Resnick told GameSpot. "Our setting provides gamers with the overall look and feel of Venezuela, although it is not an accurate street by street depiction and the characters as well as the storyline are completely made up. More to the point, the characters are categorically not based on any real political figures in Venezuela or elsewhere."

Resnick went on to describe the practice of setting fictional storylines in real places as a "common practice in the entertainment business [of] both movies and video games," claiming the situation "isn't any different than setting a movie like Goodfellas in New York."

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