International Committee of the Red Cross Wants International Law Rolled into War Games

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a lengthy statement today noting that it is time that games involving war start including the actual laws of war. The IRCC says that this could be done without interfering with the fun that millions of players have playing first-person shooters.

The ICRC believes that more realistic war games could offer learning opportunities by forcing players to face some of the same real-world dilemmas that real soldiers face on the battlefield. This could be done by adding a penalty system where, if a player violates the laws of armed conflict established by the Geneva Convention, they might face in-game penalties. Those penalties would be related to "wanton killing" of civilians, using torture, or targeting medical personnel.

"Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes," the ICRC noted. "Sanitizing video games of such acts is not realistic. Violations occur on real battlefields… it is useful for players to learn from rewards and punishments incorporated into the game, about what is acceptable and what is prohibited in war."

It's an interesting idea that is explored in more detail here.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Well, yes and no.   'you die or the other guy' is a very short term rule.  As many soldiers have discovered, things done in the heat of battle can have far reaching consequences both personally and to their larger organization.  

    Even on the battlefield, breaking rules can have consequences such as sudden moral drops or escalation.

  2. 0
    GrimCW says:

    I could see it as a plot device, but even in reality war crimes happen and there are no rules on the battlefield.

    You die or you make the other guy die, end of story.

  3. 0
    Technogeek says:

    They said in the linked statement that they have worked with authors and screenwriters previously. It wouldn't surprise me if this was a "hey game creators, we're willing to help out with improving realism in our area of expertise" more than anything.

  4. 0
    Ultenth says:

    I'm fine with it, as long as they can do the same thing with movies and TV and books and comics and any music about war.   But no, they pick on the one with the weakest lobby that they think can't defend itself.  Try taking the same approach with the lobbies for the above listed industries, good luck with that.

  5. 0
    Scott1701c says:

    Define "Civilians".

    What is a Civilian? Do people working in manufacturing plants count as Civilians? Do government employees count as Civilians? Is the President (or leader of any nation that is not under military rule) truly a Civilian? And if he is not, then is his staff considered Civilians?

    Harder question. If you know of a group of enemy combatants, that is in a home, are the other people Civilians then? Did they invite the enemy combatants in or did they force them to house them?


    The following is my personal opinions. These are very difficult questions, with lots of Grey areas.

    I honestly believe that anyone who works for the Government is not a Civilian.

    If you go onto a battle field, you are no longer a civilian, BUT if you are forced (or live) there then you are.

    If you manufacture for the military (including militias), you are NOT a Civilian.

    The Leadership of ANY nation are not Civilians, neither are their staffs.


    Now the Hard Question. Do you still attack the enemy if they are hiding behind civilian shields? The enemy is still shooting at you, your buddies are dieing all around you. Do you fight?


    Last question. If the enemy trained children to throw grenades at you, would you shoot the Child or not shoot the Child?

  6. 0
    Ultenth says:

    And when you or your friend's life is on the line you're biological imperative is going to basically ignore all of that and just try to survive and make the other guy dead.

  7. 0
    Robert W. says:

    Buddy of mine was in a branch of the military that dealt with interrogation etc. The first thing they did was hand him a copy of the Geneva convention. 

    Then they instructed him to throw it in the trash. I can't help but feel the same way about this.

  8. 0
    Count_Zero says:

    Agreed. I think the best option the ICRC could take would be to have a free certification that they can give to games (without developers or publishers having to pay for evaluation).

  9. 0
    Technogeek says:

    I agree. It would add some verisimilitude to the whole Modern Military Shooter(tm)(r)(wtf) subgenre, and from the text of the linked statement I doubt they'd have any interest in introducing it as an element to games outside said subgenre.

  10. 0
    Neeneko says:

    It is one of the reasons I liked Mercenaries :Playground of Destruction and think it is a pity there really has been no good spiritual successor to it.

Leave a Reply