COD Red Cross

Playing War Games Could Soon Make You A War Criminal

The International Committee of the Red Cross is examining war games and whether they violate the Geneva Conventions (international rules established in 1949 that protect victims of wars). The Conventions dictate, among other things, that prisoners of war, wounded or sick fighters, civilians, and medical or religious personnel be treated with dignity and not be made subject to torture or other forms of excessive violence. They're, uh, pretty important.

But should they apply to video games?

“Exactly how video games influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games,” the Red Cross wrote in its daily bulletin.

“While National Societies shared their experiences and opinions, there is clearly no simple answer. There is, however, an overall consensus and motivation to take action.”

Obviously the people in video games aren't real—but should game developers be responsible for the way their virtual soldiers act in times of war? Depending on what decision the Committee reaches, they may ask game developers to create responsible scenarios—or even begin petitioning governments to regulate what developers can portray in war games.
This raises a ton of issues, though. What about non-war games? Why should Battlefield 3 players be subject to international law when Niko Bellic's crimes in Grand Theft Auto go unpunished day after day?
Let us know what you think – should game developers be more mindful of international laws, or should the Red Cross go and worry about more important issues?
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Resident Evil and the Red Cross
Does killing zombies in Resident Evil would count as a war crime? It would be a crime not to win, surely. Picture: Infinity Ward / Activision


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