For some reason, Central and South American governments don’t like appearing in video games. The latest incident in this list occurred this week when Bolivia filed a complaint with the French embassy regarding the content of Ghost Recon Wildlands, Ubisoft’s newest military shooter.
Reuters reports that Bolivia’s Interior Minister Carlos Romero delivered the letter to the French ambassador.
“We have the standing to [take legal action],” Romero said. “But at first we prefer the route of diplomatic negotiation.”
The story fueling Ghost Recon Wildlands has a drug cartel controlling the Bolivian government, turning it into a narco-state that the player is tasked with dismantling.
For their part, Ubisoft said in a statement to Reuters that the game is a “work of fiction,” and Bolivia was chosen because of its “magnificent landscapes and rich culture.”
“While the game’s premise imagines a different reality than the one that exists in Bolivia today, we do hope that the in-game world comes close to representing the country’s beautiful topography,” Ubisoft said.
This isn’t the first and likely won’t be the last time a foreign government gets its hackles up over a fictional video game. It’s not even the first time the Ghost Recon series has been in hot water.
North Korea didn’t like the depiction of its nation in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 back in 2004. A North Korean newspaper said that while the game was “just a game for now… war will not be a game for them later. In war, they will only face miserable defeat and gruesome deaths.”
Then, in 2006, Venezuelan politicians objected to Mercenaries 2. One Venezuelan congressman suggested the game was part of one of America’s “campaigns of psychological terror,” while another politician called it “justification for imperialist aggression.”
In a slightly more personal instance, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sued Activision for its depiction of him in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. That suit was dismissed a couple months later.
The link here is that all of these nations are nations with current or recently deposed authoritarian governments and political strife. That makes them both an attractive target for game developers who want to create a plausible story and a target likely to respond to even minor questioning of its authority. That the nation in which the developer resides might have control over what games the developer creates would be an idea that would make sense in that kind of environment, as well.
Previous incidents of this nature haven’t gone much of anywhere. I would be surprised if this one does, but I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on it. The moment one of these governments or publishers fold, that’ll open the doors for other requests like this.