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Bolivia complains to France about country's portrayal in Ghost Recon: Wildlands

lukeskymac

Member
Jun 3, 2014
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Video games can have devastating views on one's perception. Take for instance the rampant sexism in the gaming community due to the constant objectification of women in this medium.

I don't remember what's the name of the fallacy where something which is the result of multiple factors is pinned on as a direct consequence of only one of those, but I know it exists.

You're doing that.
 
Jun 6, 2004
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Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have the game but I remember reading that the entire premise of the game is that in a fictional future, Mexicans Drug cartels move their operations and invade Boliva to set up shop.

The interview I read said something along the lines of 'real life Bolivia' produces the worlds largest supply of Coca plant in the entire world... "what if the Mexican drug cartels took advantage of that in the future". That was the premise IIRC. Therefore the reason for the drugs and the Mexican references in game.

yo might want to re-read that post i quoted.. it wasn't about drugs and Mexican references, it was about Mexican architecture and wildlife.
 

Crossing Eden

Hello, my name is Yves Guillemot, Vivendi S.A.'s Employee of the Month!
Feb 14, 2014
25,271
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Philadelphia
I don't remember what's the name of the fallacy where something which is the result of multiple factors is pinned on as a direct consequence of only one of those, but I know it exists.

You're doing that.
There are multiple reasons why gaming has a rampant sexism problem, the portrayal of women is part of that. "it's video games" is an intellectually dishonest argument.
 

Nander

Member
Nov 29, 2005
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1. Of course you can't sue someone over the portrayal of a place in a work of fiction. That would be just absurd!

2. It's unfortunate that Ubisoft has chosen to portray Bolivia in this way. I spent a month there and while it certainly has its fair share of issues, it is a fairly safe country that luckily mostly has been spared from the violent side of the narcotics trade. There is no lack of other Central and South American countries that would have been more appropriate for such a theme - but maybe there are other good reasons as to why Ubisoft chose Bolivia (I have not at all followed this game)?
 

Bishop89

Member
May 13, 2013
16,287
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Could you say this if it was a movie? Of course not. Should anyone be saying this about a video game in 2017? ...
Yes you could.

It's a work of fiction and it's not Ubisofts fault if there are uneducated brain dead people who would believe how Bolivia is portrayed in this game is representative of how the country actually is.
 

OfTheOverflow

Member
Aug 18, 2015
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I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.

I guess they just saw the region as a safe target, the probably didn't want to kick the hornets nest by actually tackling countries that do have well known drug rings for whatever reason.
 

blakep267

Member
Dec 9, 2013
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I can't agree with some of you in here or Bolivia. Fiction is fiction and it isn't suppose to portray it realistically, even if they wanted to that is impossible in games now.

We can have zombies, cop killing, murder, war, nukes, death of all people in other games and areas (real countries etc) but can't do it here? I mean, I understand his concern but he should be aware that no one is playing the game assuming this represents the country. This would have never ever came up (and if it does, on rare and non warranted causes) if he had not said anything. The only ones making it into something is him honestly.
PEople are dumb. Like really dumb. How a place or people is portrayed by media definitely influences people's perceptions. How many people think all inner cities are like Chicago or any number of tropes that a tv show or a movie may portray black peoples?

The average young teen who's playing this and has no idea about Bolivia is probably going to think, wow Bolivia is a cartel ridden lawless place
 

chertipros

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Apr 15, 2012
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Coming from a 3rd world country that gets misrepresented and slandered in the media all the time, I sympathize with any Bolivian who feels a type of way about the way their country is being portrayed in this game.
 

Barajas_201

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Apr 30, 2014
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Yeah it really sucks for Bolivia. Ubisoft chose them as the narco-state country instead of Mexico purely out of money interest and ignorance because their game would get banned in Mexico, one of if not the biggest video game market in Latin America, for portraying the cartels as the status quo in the country. Bolivia is actually, from what I've read one of the peaceful countries in LA, the main narco ones are Colombia, Peru and of course Mexico.
 
Sep 1, 2013
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Ever since the reveal I felt sad that the 2 times I had seen Bolivia on popular media (Scarface and this game) is in a negative light, I lived a little over a year there and I have fond memories of my time there.
 
Mar 27, 2015
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Ever since the reveal I felt sad that the 2 times I had seen Bolivia on popular media (Scarface and this game) is in a negative light, I lived a little over a year there and I have fond memories of my time there.

So where do we want the game to take place? The moon? Maybe ubisoft can edit all the cartels to have water guns and make it into a giant holiday/party. I wouldn't mind that honestly lol

On the demo they put the locals as ignorants zealot people
Isn't everyone in the game ignorant zealot people? I call this bad AI, not by design?

It's beyond obvious they weren't making this game as a portrayal for what an area is/has or has to offer. They were making a GHOST RECON game and they can barely make this game that well. They can't also make realistic AI and a travel simulator on top of all of that can they? They aren't trying to show this country for what it may be , they are making a ghost recon game with focus on "shooting" and stopping enemies. I think that is what some of you simply aren't getting.
 

nynt9

Member
Jun 7, 2013
10,852
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Isn't the premise of this game "what if Bolivia got invaded and controlled by a drug cartel"? So isn't anything incongruent with reality because of that absurd premise?

As always, the non affected telling the affected how to feel.

Your profile says you're Colombian so aren't you also a non affected telling people how to feel?
 

Lime

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Apr 27, 2008
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It wouldn't have hurt to try to nuance the country a bit more with some positive sides (e.g. civilian NPCs or whatever) or alternatively just set it in a fictional country.

Also, Tom Clancy narratives are trash.

I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.

Good post.
 

PaulExcellent

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Aug 8, 2012
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K then I want Panama to not be a fucking slumtown every time they show it.

I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.
Great post, m8.
This just tells me that they grabbed the stereotypes they saw on novelas and shit and picked a country at random that sounded Hispanic enough. LOL
 

120v

Member
Mar 14, 2013
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should've taken the Far Cry approach with "vague south american region". as a texan i think i can relate... according to most media we all wear cowboy hats and ride horses to work
 

benny_a

extra source of jiggaflops
Apr 25, 2009
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I had my junk explored in La Paz for potential drug trafficking, therefor it's true!
 

HueyFreeman

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Jul 27, 2011
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Åesop;231361455 said:
Pathetic.. it's a video game, get over it

Nope - The video game world needs to start being more responsible. This medium is still basically at the "True Lies" phase of film making with overly simplistic and potentially harmful portrayals of other nations and peoples. Especially with the huge uptick in game consumption in the world in the last 15 years, developers and publishers need to get with the times.
 
Sep 1, 2014
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I am really suprised that it took them this long to complain.

I am from Bolivia and have mostly followed this game, not because it really interests me, but because of the whole "It is in my country" thing. Basically, I have watched the trailers, read some articles, and watched some gameplay (so its clear that my knowledge of it its just superficial)

To be honest my inital reaction was "A Ghost Recon set in Bolivia, cool!" and i was impressed with the landscapes and the overall geographical depiction of the terrain since i would say its fairly accurate to what can be found, even if its a little exagerated on some aspects. They even showed one of our traditional dances (the costumes were kinda funny looking but ok)

It really did not bother me, or even sparked an inner discussion of: Should this be bothering me? Perhaps it is because I am very used to Bolivia being depicted in a rather negative tone most of the time, not only by foreign media but also our own (Most of our cinema is a clear example of this). Hell, I showed the footage of the trailers to friends and family and nobody complained (they all just laughed whenever a cholita could be seen in the background)
Nevertheless i would say the context of the game is clear: A mexican cartel is taking over and the rural population cannot fight back, enter "ghosts with guns". Really, it is such a standard fictional setting that no one could take it seriously or link it to the real context of the country.

Having said all that, the part that really saddens me is that the minister is probably making all this fuzz as a political move, rather than an earnest attempt to improve the depiction of our lovely country.
 

PSqueak

Banned
Jan 31, 2015
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Videogames don't even portray Mexico realistically, so now they're dumping all the hyperbole and misrepresentation of Mexico into Bolivia?!
 

Metroxed

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Sep 1, 2012
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Basque Country
I guess they just saw the region as a safe target, the probably didn't want to kick the hornets nest by actually tackling countries that do have well known drug rings for whatever reason.

I am personally bothered not so much by the fact that they depicted Bolivia as a cartel-controlled country (it is a videogame and it is fiction set in the future, that's not an issue), but rather by the fact that they just took a bunch of cultural and visual elements which are not even Bolivian but that are probably recognisable to western audiences (deserts, Mexican Día de los Muertos and Santa Muerte, etc.) and just applied them to the country. Bolivia has its own cultural elements and its own indigenous themes and motives, it does not need to have the Mexican ones "copied and pasted".

They could have made the same storyline (Mexican cartels take over Bolivia in the not so distant future), but actually trying to reflect how Bolivia actually looks like. I mean, I've seen some landmarks (The Death Road, the Train Graveyard), but the towns and rest look generic and almost copied from Mexican settings.

The truth is that the devs don't really care, western audiences don't care either and they can just display Bolivia in the most bizarre and inaccurate of ways (as they did in Quantum of Solace, or in the Beirut and San José examples on this thread) and people will actually believe that that's how those countries look like.

And the truth is that many developing countries are misrepresented in the media all the time. Hollywood is the main offender.
 

barybll

Banned
Mar 19, 2016
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South americans in general, never get good portrayals.
Not that I can blame people, the bad stuff is usually louder, and I speak as a south american.

Actually, scratch that
The whole latin america usually gets bad portrayals
 

Budi

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Apr 3, 2016
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Sure, you can criticize and if you feel hurt by the depiction it's all right too. But the possible legal action seems a tad silly. And if it happens, should be ruled in favor of Ubi.

Overall this is a good reminder to all devs on how they portray regions, people etc. and do they enforce harmful stereotypes.
 

Apathy

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Nov 24, 2013
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Has Bolivia in the past complained to say Hollywood about it's portrayal in films or tv shows where they are set in Bolivia?

It makes me wonder why these places get all up in arms when fictional work presents their country like this. It's fictional, get over it.
 

Mike Golf

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Sep 12, 2013
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I empathize with those who want a more accurate representation or just plain better accuracy in general when it comes to region and nation portrayal. That Jurassic Park example is a good one, and honestly it goes deeper with JP specifically as the misrepresentation of Paleontology and its research in the movie is well documented. What I think that highlights, granted as a movie example, is that media has, does, and likely always will take heavy liberties for the sake of entertainment over all else unless the piece of media's specific intent is documenting facts.

I mean, if you're not a from the US or Western in general you may think that the US is NYC, LA or Texas, maybe some Washington DC in there too, with all the innacuracies and misrepresentation included. Not using that as an excuse, just showing that innacurate representation for the sake of media entertainment is far reaching and happens to just about all nations the world over.

Discussing it and wanting it to be done better is completely fine and should happen, it helps bring attention to the true face of the people or nation in question if there's any doubt by those who are consuming this media, but I do think the Minister attempting to take legal action is a little ridiculous.
 

Orochinagis

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May 30, 2012
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Mexico
South americans in general, never get good portrayals.
Not that I can blame people, the bad stuff is usually louder, and I speak as a south american.

Actually, scratch that
The whole latin america usually gets bad portrayals

Yup except from the US themselves the rest of america is desert, drug dealers, no man land , free for all US playground
 

FrankCanada97

Roughly the size of a baaaaaarge
Feb 24, 2016
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I'm going to assume from the lack of responses to my earlier question that:

A: It was a fair portrayal of Bolivia.

Or

B: No one cared enough about it to make a fuss out of the bad portrayal.
 

Spring-Loaded

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Apr 16, 2012
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Has Bolivia in the past complained to say Hollywood about it's portrayal in films or tv shows where they are set in Bolivia?

It makes me wonder why these places get all up in arms when fictional work presents their country like this. It's fictional, get over it.

Apathy
Member
Today, 06:53 PM
 

GameAddict411

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Aug 4, 2013
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Åesop;231361455 said:
Pathetic.. it's a video game, get over it

You won't be saying that if you lived in a small country and you find out that a foreign company is portraying it as a shit hole full of drugs and crime.
 
Mar 27, 2015
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If a person believes the game depicts Bolivia then I have to blame the person more than ubisoft there. I wouldn't imagine any game like this as some sort of representation.

I'd also firmly believe it isn't thier intent for the world not to portray the people and culture

It simoly isn't needed for the game they are making.

This is the same idea in mercenaries and just cause?

I'm not sure where those games take place but in mercenaries all you do is destroy the when area.

The game simply doesn't have the budget or time to portray everything. Sure, it would be incredible if any game had everything there like real life. But they just don't.


Now I'm curious where mercenaries took place though.

Not sure if it was mentioned or where it was based on.

Venezuela apparently.

I get that they often make countries look war torn and cartel based. It seems to be part of western culture to just feel ok with it and I can understand the worry in seeing the portrayal. I think the issue is more in the idea of assuming what is there rather than what's not included though
 

FoxHimself

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Mar 15, 2006
4,239
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You won't be saying that if you lived in a small country and you find out that a foreign company is portraying it as a shit hole full of drugs and crime.

Except it's a piece of fiction, clearly stated so, where a Mexican drug cartel has invaded and taken over the country.

Some responsibility lies on the consumer of the fiction to understand that it is indeed fiction.

We can't seriously mean that every piece of art, culture and other fictional forms of expression should be 100% in sync with real life?
 
I'm from the US so I don't really feel any type of way but I think it's trivial. It's a video game and and as any medium, creators should be free to express themselves without worry for censorship.

You have to walk on eggshells nowadays, you can't say or do anything without anyone or a country apparently, being offended.
 

OzzieTF

Banned
Jul 1, 2016
22
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Atlanta,GA
I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.
Now this is a post.

Caricatures and imprecisions are quite common on various media's regarding Latin America, but looks like they went wrong too much here...
 

Khrno

Member
Mar 31, 2007
7,879
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Åesop;231361455 said:
Pathetic.. it's a video game, get over it

I think your attitude is what is pathetic.

They are in their right to complain about how they are depicting their country in that game, or in any other media if that were the case.

Instead if Ubi had set the game in current Mexico, or in late 90s/early 00s in Colombia, no one would be complaining since it would have depicted a real or historical situation.

But in this case is a fictional story that depicts a country in way they are not like that. If it was some scifi or sey in the past, it would be different, but there will be a lot of players that will go through the game and when they are done with it they will just think about Bolivia about some very bad country.
 
Sep 1, 2014
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I'm going to assume from the lack of responses to my earlier question that:

A: It was a fair portrayal of Bolivia.

Or

B: No one cared enough about it to make a fuss out of the bad portrayal.

somehow I did not see your post. I actually played through Bad Company 2 and remeber being suprised that there was a level taking place in Bolivia. Memory is a bit fuzzy but i remember it being a jungle-like environment that could have been anywhere really, and that the only indicative of it taking place in Bolivia was a flag in the middle of an enemy camp or something like that.
so yeah not a bad portrayal i would say, but an effortless one that could have been anywhere else
 

Hierophant

Banned
Jun 16, 2015
2,447
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Sydney, Australia
And it ain't even a good game.

yeah

maybe this would be a different story if the game was actually good and could maturely handle the subject matter of the scenario where cartels take over bolivia

but no, the games actually not very good and it handles it with the grace of a bull in a china shop while also not being a very good actual videogame

it is not good enough to argue for
 

Hierophant

Banned
Jun 16, 2015
2,447
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Sydney, Australia
I'm from the US so I don't really feel any type of way but I think it's trivial. It's a video game and and as any medium, creators should be free to express themselves without worry for censorship.

You have to walk on eggshells nowadays, you can't say or do anything without anyone or a country apparently, being offended.

think about what you just wrote and read this

I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.
 

NoHeDidn't

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Nov 10, 2013
1,034
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Ingleside Texas
I am not suprised. I am not Bolivian but I lived there sometime back, and the depiction of the country in the game is as far from reality as possible. They might have just as well named the country something invented.

There are no drug cartels in Bolivia (that's Colombia, Mexico), to begin with. Second, all the "santa muerte" theme and motives (skeleton worshipping, etc.) that could be seen in the trailer comes from Mexican culture, not Bolivian. The "drug lords" look like the Maras (tattoos in the face, hands, everywhere in the body and bald), who are Central American gangs and groups, not South American. The towns look 100% Mexican with Mexican-style architecture. The desertic landscape from the trailer also looks Mexican, Bolivia has cold deserts, and they don't have cactus.

I don't even know why they decided to go with Bolivia at this point.

No but seriously we have Homefront that turns U.S into North Korean U.S its fiction and takes liberties like any other form of media.Infact Bolivia should start addressing every 80-90s era movies and books that potray Bolivia along with other countries as drug havens.
 
May 18, 2010
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Except it's a piece of fiction, clearly stated so, where a Mexican drug cartel has invaded and taken over the country.

Some responsibility lies on the consumer of the fiction to understand that it is indeed fiction.

We can't seriously mean that every piece of art, culture and other fictional forms of expression should be 100% in sync with real life?

Exactly this. Should Ubi put a giant disclaimer each time you load the game that this doesn't actually reflect Bolivia?
 

Gaz_RB

Member
Apr 1, 2013
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Yeah it seems really weird to call it Bolivia. They should have just made a country up.
 

Syntsui

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Nov 14, 2011
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Yeah, as a brazilian it really sucks when your country is generalized as a drug heaven every single time.
 

Spladam

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Jun 12, 2015
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You guys remember when the Simpsons had Homer get kidnapped in Brazil, there was a great amount of national outrage. I've had arguments with my friend in Brazil who still hates the Simpsons for this (there was a real life conterpart to this parody though, it is a problem, mainly for rich Brazilians, in Brazil).
But portrayal in media REALLY does affect a world view on cultures, and not just for the "uneducated". I have two friends from the Middle East who often complain about this, for good reason I think. Just look at the Homeland example posted in this thread.

Bolivian viral marketing
Clever

Media (all media, tv films books games etc) shapes perception of the people more then you think.
Why do you think most Americans can only think of how the middle east looks like from tv shows and movies and not what it really looks like.
This is the truth though.
 

TeddyShardik

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Nov 27, 2013
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I can sympathize with feeling your country got represented badly and critisizing the piece of media that did it for that.

But there is a big difference between criticism and an official complaint to the embassy of france. This just reeks of someone trying to drum up controversy against the evil french to direct people away from the actual problems in the country.