Ubisoft accused of ‘international crime’ by anti-war group

While recent complaints leveled against Ubisoft have mostly concerned the lackluster casual games being pumping out on the Wii and DS, anti-war group Direct Action to Stop the War has a far more serious bone to pick with the publisher of Imagine: Babyz and Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party. It seems that the cause of their ire was sparked by Ubisoft’s involvement with America’s Army, which bears a Teen rating. The organization detailed their complaints in a letter to Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc.

“The military recruitment of children under the age of 17, however, is a clear violation of international law (the U.N. Optional Protocol). No attempt to recruit children 13-16 is allowed in the United States, pursuant to treaty. It is also important to consider the effects of the game within the context of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undoubtedly soldiers now recruited through America’s Army will serve in these wars. The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are violations of international law, and contributing to their continuation through the propagation of the game is, if not a criminal violation, a moral outrage.”

“Ubisoft’s role as publisher of America’s Army is contributing to an international crime. But you are not alone: Gameloft is working on the cell phone application and Secret Level was a developer of the 2005 version of the game. Is child recruitment, recruitment to fight the cause of dubious wars the proper business of your company and those of you in their employ?”

I can respect being against child soldiers and all, but I think these folks are missing a big point: even if little Timmy enjoys playing virtual Army exercises, he still can’t enlist in the actual Army. It sounds like Direct Action’s problem isn’t necessarily with Ubisoft, but rather with the armed forces marketing themselves to minors in any way, shape, or form.

Along with the angry letter, the organization also directly contacted Laurent Detoc by phone. During the conversation he reportedly stated that Ubisoft wasn’t going to be involved with any future America’s Army titles anyway, but that apparently isn’t good enough for Direct Action, who would like to see the company “end their contracts with the military, stop work on the game, and make public pronouncements in writing to that effect.”

Justin Villasenor