It's all in the game
"North America's getting soft, patron, and the rest of the world is getting tough. Very, very tough. We're entering savage new times, and we're going to have to be pure and direct and strong, if we're going to survive them." - Videodrome
Perhaps you've seen this:
Venezuela lawmakers blast video game
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A U.S. company's video game simulating an invasion of Venezuela is supposed to hit the shelves next year, but it's already raising the ire of lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez.
Pandemic describes Mercenaries 2: World in Flames as "an explosive open-world action game" in which "a power-hungry tyrant messes with Venezuela's oil supply, sparking an invasion that turns the country into a war zone." The company says players take on the role of well-armed mercenaries.
Lawmaker Gabriela Ramirez said "Mercenaries 2" gives a false vision of Chavez as a tyrant and Venezuela as being on the verge of chaos. She said the game could be banned under a proposed law aimed at protecting Venezuelan children from violent video games.
"Pandemic has no ties to the US government," says Greg Richardson, the firm's vice president of commercial operations. That's the sound of hairs splitting. Pandemic Studios is a Pentagon subcontractor through the aegis of the "Institute for Creative Technologies," launched by the US Army in 1998 with $45 million as a go-between with the entertainment and gaming industries. Pandemic is the developer of military training simulations such as Full Spectrum Command, commercially available as Full Spectrum Warrior for gaming on Playstation and XBox. ("A quantum-leap forward in battlefield simulation" says Game Informer. "Enlist Now" for updates.) "Within days of its release" in 2004, "gamers figured out the cheat code to unlock the Army-only version hidden on the commercial discs, featuring less flashy graphics but smarter opponents." (Gee, how careless can the Army get?)
The Pentagon is co-parenting Pandemic with its unlikely - or possibly inevitable - same sex sugar daddy: U2's Bono. His Elevation Partners spent $300 million last November to bring the Studio together with Bioware "to create the world's best funded and largest independent game development house." Now there's a cause.
America's New Flesh is machine-scarred from its generational incubation in immersive battlefields which are, like Bono sings, even better than the real thing. Meanwhile, the real thing becomes just another level of play, until you play it, survive it, and return with the Home Version. Diplomacy is never on the table, except as a a board game that fewer young people have the patience to engage. So it has to be Grand Theft Oil, when some "power-hungry tyrant" in Venezuela "messes" with America's petroleum. War is the last option. Play is the first.
Defending World in Flames, Pandemic publicist Chuck Norris says "although a conflict doesn't necessarily have to be happening, it's realistic enough to believe that it could eventually happen." Or, as in the words of Brian O'blivion, "The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena." It's been fought, and maybe decided, for this generation.