Bolivia Initiates Diplomatic Action With France Over Portrayal In Fictional Video Game

from the un-bolivia-ble dept

There’s been something of a trend recently in which the digital realm of video games have begun penetrating reality. This has taken several forms, from many countries attempting to dress up their real world military capabilities using video game footage, to infractions within the gaming realm resulting in real world criminal charges. This has come to be in part because gaming has become a dominant form of entertainment for so much of the population and in part because of how realistic games have become.

But neither seems to be much of a factor in what I think is a first: Bolivia has filed a dipolomatic complaint with France in response to the country’s fictionalized portrayal in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

The Bolivian government has filed a formal complaint with the French embassy about a video game produced by a French company that portrays the South American country as an area controlled by drug traffickers, authorities said. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Interior Minister Carlos Romero said Bolivia had delivered a letter to the French ambassador and asked that the French government intervene, adding that Bolivia reserved the right to take legal action.

“We have the standing to do it (take legal action), but at first we prefer to go the route of diplomatic negotiation,” Romero said.

Now, the setting for the game is a fictionalized version of Bolivia where, contrary to reality, large swaths of the country are controlled by Mexican drug cartels that are wreaking all manner of havoc over the land. The key part of that would be that it’s fictional. As in not mirroring reality. You know, such as pretty much every other work of fictional art that has ever been created.

Oh, also, Ubisoft chose Bolivia for the setting specifically because of how much it appreciated the beauty of the country.

In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, Ubisoft said the game is “a work of fiction” and that Bolivia was chosen as the background for the game 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.

I don’t know what the workload of the Bolivian diplomatic corps looks like, and I frankly don’t care. There simply must be more relevant work to do than shaking a diplomatic fist against the home country of a video game company over an artistic work of fiction. I have no idea what Bolivia’s end-game was in trying to get France to intervene in Ubisoft’s work, but I’m sure it wasn’t the actual outcome, which is to have Bolivia look both petty and silly, as well as hostile to art and free speech.

I’m not sure what standing Bolivia thinks it actually has to do anything about this, but I’m fairly certain that such standing is every bit as fictional as the Bolivia from the game.

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Companies: ubisoft

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Comments on “Bolivia Initiates Diplomatic Action With France Over Portrayal In Fictional Video Game”

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bob says:

free PR

Actually this is good PR on ubisoft’s side. Pick a country that will take offense to your fictional world, make sure you look like an innocent company against a small power ( both legally and physically) country, and then back in all the free new headlines highlighting your game because the country threats you.

Even if they didn’t plan on this ubisoft is still getting to highlight key features in the game.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Now, the setting for the game is a fictionalized version of Bolivia where, contrary to reality, large swaths of the country are controlled by Mexican drug cartels that are wreaking all manner of havoc over the land.

It could have been far worse. Instead of Mexican drug cartels, Ubisoft could have made the Bolivian government look corrupt and incompetent by portraying the IOC and FIFA wreaking all manner of havoc over the land.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Ah, someone’s got to play the Devil’s Advocate here, so I’ll do it: what if the game was about a fictionalised America in which all the people who lived there were either evil corporate types or stupid, pig-ignorant, rapey hicks with bad teeth?

If your only knowledge or experience of another nation comes from pop culture, which includes games, then surely to goodness you’ll have the “facts” you’ve learned from those sources sitting in the back of your head when the opportunity arises to, let’s say, take a holiday abroad or buy an item originating from that country.

Let’s be honest here, I tend to have the videogame view of Bolivia due to news reports, etc., so that’s all I know about it until I take the time to find out more about it. Come on, is there anyone here who can say any different? Would it really have been so hard to create a game with a fake country’s name in it? Whether they intend to or not they’re reinforcing a stereotyped view of an entire nation. Whether or not Bolivia is being reasonable about the way they’re addressing their complaint is one thing, but is it reasonable of us to point and laugh at them for complaining?

Anonymous Coward says:

Anyone who thinks Bolivia is a country overrun with drug cartels because a video game says so is probably a firm believer that video games make people commit murder.

Most peoplewouldn’t be able to locate Bolivia on a map, so anything bringing it into public view would be a *good* thing. Of the people who play it, some will look further into Bolivia. Of those, some will want to visit the country. Surely visitors and tourists would be a good thing?

Unless of course, the faux-outrage is for more publicity and any publicity is good publicity. In which case, well-played, Bolivia! 🙂

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