A few days ago, Bolivia filed a formal complaint with the French embassy in regards to the upcoming Ubisoft game, Ghost Recon Wildlands. The fictional game is set in the country of Bolivia, and the country is unhappy with the publisher’s portrayal of Bolivia.
In Wildlands‘ version of Bolivia, the country is run by drug traffickers known as the Santa Blanca. As reported by Reuters, Interior Minister Carlos Romero confirmed Bolivia had given a letter to France’s ambassador, which asked for France to intervene in regards to their complaint. Bolivia noted that they reserve 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.
I only have one question in regards to Bolivia’s complaint about Ghost Recon Wildlands. The game was revealed and detailed back in June 2015. Bolivia had almost two years to make a comment about how their country was being portrayed, so why now, less than a week before Wildlands‘ launch, has the country decided to make a big deal about it?
Apparently the nuance of the term “fiction” is lost on some folks in Bolivia, so I won’t spend time trying to explain that one. Instead, allow me to discuss a few other games that have portrayed real-life cities or countries.
The easiest example to point to is Grand Theft Auto. In the past, this franchise has portrayed real-life cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Miami in less than flattering ways. And where was the governor of California, New York or Florida complaining about how their city was portrayed? Oh yeah, they were doing their jobs and not allowing entertaining works of fiction to affect their day-to-day duties.
Another example could be Ubisoft’s very own game Watch Dogs, which is set in Chicago. The title released back in 2014 and the open-world hacking game portrayed a world that could be infiltrated by a phone. Street lights, steam pipes and many other items could be used to cause remarkable chaos around Chicago. Maybe its just me, but I missed the mayor of Chicago saying, “Those mechanical spiders are inaccurate representations of life in our fine city. It’s an outrage and this game must be stopped.” Exactly, he didn’t say that, and you know why? Because it’s a video game and it includes that ever elusive “f” word, fiction.
I could go on and talk about the Monstars from Space Jam who were outraged by NBA Jam‘s over-the-top gameplay, but I won’t. I could go on and talk about how Captain Kirk was outraged over Mass Effect’s portrayal of life in space, but I won’t. Okay, so those things obviously didn’t happen, but you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
Bolivia’s decision to take issue with Ghost Recon Wildlands‘ portrayal of the country just days prior to the game’s launch is fishy at best. This fictional representation is nothing new and not something that just came out of nowhere. Ghost Recon Wildlands has been coming for a long time, and its themes have been clear for all to see. Maybe if Bolivia hadn’t tied their letter to France’s ambassador to a pigeon’s leg it would have arrived sooner.
All I know is this obnoxious news is meant to reign on the hard-work hundreds of developers have put into this game for years now. Instead of whining about video games, Bolivia should maybe focus on improving its education where “over one million Bolivian citizens over the age of 15 are unable to read or write.” Perhaps they could focus on the outrageous malnutrition problems facing the nation where “an overwhelming 25 percent of Bolivian children under the age of 3 have or currently suffer from malnutrition.” If not this than perhaps Bolivia could focus on the astounding gender equity issues where “gender violence causes more death and disability in Bolivia among women aged 15–44 than do cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, or war.”
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Bolivia needs to stay focused on the needs of their countrymen and women, instead of worrying about a video game’s portrayal of it, one which is purely for entertainment purposes and not to be taken literally. Ghost Recon Wildlands launches this coming March 7 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on video games.