Red Cross: Gamers Who Commit Virtual War Crimes Should Suffer Virtual Consequences

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wants gamers who commit virtual war crimes during gameplay to suffer virtual consequences.

In a statement, the ICRC says it wants to collaborate with game designers to create consequences for in-game torture, harming civilians, attacking medical personnel or anything else deemed a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

It’s a request that could get very complicated and time-consuming. The designated “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions include willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; compelling someone to serve in the forces of a hostile power; and willfully depriving someone of the right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime.

The group did not stipulated with the consequence should be, but insisted "game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes."

“Our intention is not to spoil player’s enjoyment by for example, interrupting the game with pop-up messages listing legal provisions or lecturing gamers on the law of armed conflict,” the ICRC said in a Sept. 28 statement. “We would like to see the law of armed conflict integrated into the games so that players have a realistic experience and deal first hand with the dilemmas facing real combatants on real battlefields.”

The group says that this incorporation would create respect for the law.

“With their ever increasing popularity, video games can have a strong influence on what young people, future recruits and societies in general perceive as acceptable or prohibited in situations of armed conflict,” the group said.

The ICRC is only interested in games that “simulate real war situations,” not sci-fi and fantasy.

“The ICRC is concerned that certain game scenarios could lead to a trivialization of serious violations of the law of armed conflict,” the group said. “The fear is that eventually such illegal acts will be perceived as acceptable behavior. However the ICRC is not involved in the debate about the level of violence in video games.”

Sources: The Verge, Raw Story