Venezuela's Hugo Chavez calls PlayStation games 'poison'

Venezuelan president offers withering criticism of Western games industry, calls PlayStation games 'poison'.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez won't spare a kind word for video games, calling them 'poison' and accusing them of being proxies for capitalist warmongering. According to AFP, the outspoken US critic who once notoriously referred to George W. Bush as "the devil", used his weekly radio-TV show 'Alo Presidente' to put a match to Sony's PlayStation games brand.

Those games they call 'PlayStation' are poison. Some games teach you to kill. They once put my face on a game, 'you've got to find Chavez to kill him'.

I'm not sure which game or user mod he's referring to, assuming there actually is one. Perhaps he means Mercenaries 2: World in Flames? You know, Pandemic's "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"? Pandemic denied the game was meant as a political statement (or an attempt to drum up support for a US invasion of Venezuela) but the developer admitted wanting "to have a rip from the headlines."

Chavez went on in his address to link Western games to slick propaganda vehicles, implying that scenarios in which players "bomb cities or just throw bombs" exist to incite violence against countries like Venezuela so that capitalist countries can "later sell weapons" to the country's opponents.

Games, said Chavez, "promote the need for cigarettes, drugs and alcohol," adding "That's capitalism, the road to hell."

Not all games are bad, however, according to Chavez, who said his country ought to be making "educational games" and designing "little indigenous dolls" to replace dolls "like Barbie, that have nothing to do with our culture."

It's apparently not the first time Chavez has laid into the games industry. AFP reports that Chavez once slammed Nintendo for promoting "selfishness, individualism and violence."

Last October, Venezuela passed a law making the import and sale of toy weapons and violent video games illegal, punishable by between three and five years in jail. The law reportedly goes into effect at the end of this month.

Pro tip for President Chavez: If you don't want the US electorate to ignorantly generalize about you or your country based on punditry and propaganda, then get this much straight: Don't do it to them.

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Matt Peckham

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