Red Cross Pushing For War Crimes In Video Games To Be Punished In Video Games

from the going-to-nuremberg dept

Some time back, we covered the story of the International Red Cross looking to get makers of war simulation video games to include simulated war-crime consequences within the games themselves. Just so we're all absolutely clear, they aren't looking to punish gamers IRL for their crimes in games. That is apparently the purview of Pat Robertson. They simply were looking to make the simulation come full circle. While that didn't sound like a whole lot of fun to us, the real problem was that they were clear about not having a problem with the government getting involved to make this a reality.

One possible course of action could be to encourage game designers/producers to incorporate IHL [International Humanitarian Law] in the development and design of video games, while another could be to encourage governments to adopt laws and regulations to regulate this ever-growing industry.
That's a first amendment violation. Well, the International Red Cross is back at it, though this time it seems to be looking to serve more of a realistic advisory role rather than lobbying the government to be its bully.
Sanitizing video games of such acts is not realistic. Violations occur on real battlefields and can therefore be included in video games. The ICRC believes 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.
I mean...sure, that might be useful. It also might make for a worse video game, which what will likely kill this idea off in the boardrooms of many a developer. But if the Red Cross wants to reach out to game developers and offer to serve as advisors in making war games all the more realistic, I guess that's okay. Still, we seem to be dealing with a fundemental misunderstanding on the part of the Red Cross: games are an escape from reality. Can I imagine a place for the rules of war and punishment in an ultra-realistic war simulation? Sure, of course, but that isn't going to apply to the vast majority of the games in question, so what's the point?



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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Somebody should present them to Madworld (Wii). I wonder what the punishment for beating up, impaling and electrocuting a person is. Don't mention the chainsaw!

    Really, these people need immediate psychiatric treatment if they can't distinguish fantasy from reality.

     

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    boomslang, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 5:54am

    "One possible course of action could be to encourage game designers/producers to incorporate IHL [International Humanitarian Law] in the development and design of video games ... That's a first amendment violation."

    'Encouraging' is not a first amendment violation because encouragement can be ignored. 'Requiring', on the other hand, would be a first amendment violation.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 5:56am

    Well it is refreshing to see that all of the ills in the real world have been solved and that the Red Cross has moved on to the virtual world... er wait, this just in...
    People still starving and dying in reality.
    People still needing assistance.

    Maybe finish what you started in reality, before worrying about the virtual world.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    Re:

    The ICRC is actually only pushing this for "real-war" simulations. I don't think Madworld is very realistic, as much as I'd love my own chainsaw gauntlet.

    Though I don't agree with the whole lobbying congress to make it law thing, I think it could work for some games. As long as the developers are ok with it, adding war crime laws to video games could be educational and add to the realism.

     

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    Brazenly anonymous, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    adopt laws and regulations to regulate this ever-growing industry


    That is the first amendment violation: regulating the content of the games.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:08am

    Re:

    but "required" is what they implied when they suggested government regulation. On the bright side though, that was from almost two years ago and there is no mention of it in the more recent article.

     

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    Brazenly anonymous, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Objection!

    Sounds like we need some new Ace Attorney games.

    The trick is that the games need to be separate, as the resources used in the two simulations are very different. Of course, if you could make a trial game that could pull (and do some filling in) data from another game, that could actually be really interesting.

     

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    PRMan, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    I have a better idea...

    How about a game where the Red Cross gets punished for taking billions of dollars for disasters and never paying out? In the game, you could see how much you could raise, how little you could pay out and how much you could raise your salary.

     

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    droozilla (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Just send $10....

    ....and you too, can help a n00b in need. Instead of getting slaughtered online by someone with a 3.5 k/d ratio, we can provide the victims of these games with the hugs and cookies that they should rightly have.... just text PWNED to 90999 to make your contribution today.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Yes! this is the next big thing: First 1/10 of a game could be the violent kind while the rest is supposed to represent a several months or years of trial and then in coop we could be the lawyer filing paperwork or one of the jury members trapped in a room for hours and days... it is gonna be so great!
    /sarcasm
    Face it Red Cross... a game is never gonna be realistic because too much realism sucks. This is also why that in even the most realistic games, you don't go to the virtual hospital for weeks or months when you get wounded.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    So, are they also pushing for the same things in the scripts for TV, movies, books and other media? If not, meh, just another bunch of morons jumping on a bandwaghon for publicity, even if their cause is an honest one.

    "Violations occur on real battlefields and can therefore be included in video games."

    Yes, they can, but that's up to the people producing them. Video games can also be utterly fantastical and bear no relationship to anything in reality. That's part of their charm. A completely realistic game would be boring, and possibly useless (e.g. a totally realistic game wouldn't let you restart after you die or let you easily heal after injury). Which elements of reality find their way into the game is up to the developers, and unless their aim is to make a perfect simulation they will pick and choose which parts of reality belong.

    If you seriously want such a game, fund a Kickstarter and get your own out there. Otherwise, you're just another in a long queue of morons trying to impose what you think everybody should be entertained by.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Mortal Kombat

    Fatality... Pretty gruesome.
    Babality... Pretty funny.
    Crossality... Pretty lame.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    i cant understand where these people come from.

    as for the 'escape from reality' bit in the article, there are too many people in positions of power that conveniently ignore this point and try to make out that what a game is, in fact, is a forerunner, a warm up to 'the real thing'. in other words, these games are being bought and played as if they were real situations, so as to find flaws when those same people actually execute the 'game play' in the real world

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:29am

    It'll work as well as in real life

    War crimes in games will work just like real life!

    Start an illegal war with another nation under false pretenses? No problem!

    Send in unmanned drones and air crafts to bomb bad guys in foreign nations, often without their permission? No problem, even if you 'accidentally' miss and blow up over 100 people at a wedding party! (I include 'accidentally' with quotes because come on, who doesn't at least have a bit of fun blowing things up in video games even if that's not the goal)

    Start killing your own people with chemical weapons while promising a stronger ally lots of oil if they look the other way? No problem, no war crimes here!

    After all, war crime laws are for the little people/nations, and for dictators who have already been overthrown in real life.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    One thing that has always annoyed me about the so-called-realism in modern gaming, is the lack of subcommittees.

     

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    Graham, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Alas...

    Last night I was playing starcraft, and after having my arse handed to me by some 10 year old, I hatched out some zerglings in the basement.

    Really caused havok in the local Army Barracks.

    OH IF ONLY I HADNT PLAYED COMPUTER GAMES LAST NIGHT!

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re:

    If there's not a whole lot of cost included and you could make it optional I see no problem either.

    Madworld was just for mockery. But it would not surprise me if they were after any kind of bloody violence.

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re:

    Ah, the Comic Code Authority all over again.

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re:

    The ICRC is actually only pushing this for "real-war" simulations.
    There is no such thing as a "real-war" simulation in a video game.

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:52am

    canny valley

    I'd like to see more video games where you get to play a member of an angry mob that pulls politicians out of their offices and carries them to a public square for decapitation.

    Why are there no good violent revolution sims?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    "Red Cross Pushing For War Crimes In Video Games To Be Punished In Video Games"

    This feature is already widely deployed in multi-player games.

    Granted, the process is somewhat informal and arbitrary. Transgressions are not handled by a court, but rather by an omnipotent entity known only as "Administrator", or "Admin" for short.

    Depending on the whims of the "Administrator", such heinous war crimes as "cheating" and "hacking" are dealt harsh punishment ranging from kicking the offender to a full blown permanent ban. Lesser crimes against humanity, such as murder of the English language generally don't invite the full wrath of the "Administrator". A stern verbal warning is often enough to enforce compliance.

    There's also no Geneva convention, though servers generally lay down the rules of war in something called a MOTD. Combatants are expected to abide by those rules, or they will face the fury of the Administrator. Nevertheless, combatants are expected to be familiar with the unwritten rules of combat, such as being polite and not ruining the war for everyone else even when you are losing.

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A slippery slope. try again.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Re:

    So, are they also pushing for the same things in the scripts for TV, movies, books and other media?

    I remember reading they were. Or someone was. Heck, too many dysfunctional people that can't separate fantasy from reality. I can't tell one outfit from another :/

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps I should rephrase it to "realistic" war simulations? The semantics are irrelevant, I'm trying to aptly describe games based on real world conflicts based in past, present, or realistic near futures.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:11am

    Re:

    + funny.

    I miss secret courts with secret interpretations of secret laws.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    Yes, this is what amounts to virtual justice (although the admins for Call of Duty aren't exactly enforcing the rule of law).

    I could see the Red Cross' viewpoint if I knew of any truly realistic war games - but I haven't found a game yet that wouldn't let you play again after you die, and it probably wouldn't be very popular if it existed.

     

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    Jasmine Charter, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    I can see it now...

    Orcs pursuing war crimes tribunals because the humans invaded their lands and killed off entire villages - in World of Warcraft.

    Yah... THAT'LL go over well.

    Don't they have enough to do with REAL crimes in the REAL world that they need to stick their noses into video games? What's next... a book burning of any book that doesn't have war crime punishments?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Simple solution, make your own video game or stfu Red Cross.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Re:

    Good! The cops can take them out while they're running back and forth over a first aid kit.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Re:

    This is why I always question the ellipsis when people are quoted. You never know if the part that was cut out is the part that makes the entire comment make sense. Yes, as you wrote it, that comment is not a First Amendment violation. However, if you add back in the part that you conveniently left out, then suddenly it makes sense.

    "while another could be to encourage governments to adopt laws and regulations to regulate this ever-growing industry."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Maybe...

    For most games this would be stupid and make them less appealing however I can see it being fun in large scale strategy games such as Civ. Want to get the dominant millitary force slowed? Try their leader for warcrimes while you make rockets!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    If the Red Cross were to Kickstart a "War Crimes" game people will come. I'd probably back it.

    If the game let me (as different characters) arrest, prosecute, and punish Bush, Cheney and their ilk for their crimes, I'd certainly back it.

     

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    crade (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    Re: It'll work as well as in real life

    Thats what I was thinking youd think they would worry about getting war crimes punished in real life first.

    Video games already do work like real life in that whoever loses gets punished for war crimes and whoever wins doesn't.

     

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    Pragmatic, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    ^This

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:48am

    It is exceptionally hard for me to give even half a shit about this proposal to punish war crimes in video games when there are actual horrific atrocities in real life that go completely unpunished.

    America straight-up refuses to even acknowledge it when we're accused of war crimes these days. That's fucked up. The Red Cross is completely barking up the wrong tree here.

     

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    Niall (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Would that mean they'll be happier to licence use of the Red Cross, so we can stop having medical items and locations flying the Swiss flag?

     

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    Niall (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: It'll work as well as in real life

    Yes, who is going to sit online for a couple of years talking to virtual lawyers to play out the prosecution phase? It's not like you use the same avatar in all games, or even the same game!

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Honestly... probably not. Besides I prefer the Swiss flag anyway, much more aesthetic!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Re: Objection!

    How did you manage to get 'lawyers' and 'really interesting' in the same sentence?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Objection!

    Whoops, I inferred lawyer from somewhere. Obviously not your post!

     

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    Bengie, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    I see no problem

    Even minor punishment could be a simple reminder.

    Your supplies have been slowed down by 10% because the UN is stopping some of your supplies or your supplies cost 10% more because the black-market is trying to make more money from you or you have fewer support people because the rest of the world doesn't support you.

    Just random ideas that won't hurt anything, but makes you think before you act... Do I really want a 10% increase in ammo gun cost because I want to blow up that civilian house.

    Not saying makers should have to implement this, but it is an interesting concept.

     

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    Rekrul, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Haven't games already been doing this to some extent? I remember in the game Wings by Cinemaware, you would get chewed out by your CO if you shot/bombed any red cross trucks or buildings. I think if you did it enough times, the game would end, but I never tested it. In Robocop 3D, you take damage any time you accidentally shoot one of the hostages. There are other games (I'm blanking on names right now) where the level instantly ends if you kill any civilians.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 9:34am

    I think games could use some getting rid of the nonsense. But as with any art form, it needs to happen from within. You can't arbitrarily say, oh, we are enforcing these rules in games, but not in movies or music, that is nonsense. Cut equal with all, rules for all or rules for none.
    And seriously, games do need to cut back on gratuitous violence and sex, it makes games boring, except for 15 year olds...

     

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    Rob (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    The Onion

    The Onion already explored the possibility of "ultra-realistic modern warfare game"...

    http://www.theonion.com/video/ultrarealistic-modern-warfare-game-features-awaiti,14382/

     

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    Sychodelix (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 10:25am

    Honestly, for games based on realistic warfare, I think some game companies should step up and make it happen. Not for censoring or restricting free speech, but for that next level of realism and immersion. But it should be up to each individual game company, and not the government.

    I think it would be fun having a war game where you have to consider your actions carefully and be careful how close you get to crossing the line.

     

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    Sychodelix (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Not to mention, I'd be good for letting people know, who are usually clueless about this sort of thing just how far there government is crossing the line and maybe enough public recognition will allow the people to do something about it, instead of being complacent.

     

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    any moose cow word, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re:

    I miss secret courts with secret interpretations of secret laws.
    Oddly, when a game creates secret rules for itself that doesn't apply to those on the other side, it's called cheating.

     

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    Liz (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    I wonder what the penalty would be for teabagging your downed opponents.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Getting right with Jesus

    Fuck me! The chance to terminate Pat Robertson in game repeated times would be well worth the punishment.

    What are we talking? Twenty five infinity to thirty five infinity in hell?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Didn't we already have this in Alpha Centauri back in the 90s?

     

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    Lurker Keith, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    Many Splinter Cell levels end when Civilians get caught in the crossfire.

    Blacklist's 2nd mission, for example, has a 'don't kill civilians' objective. In fact, I think all the levels that are populated w/ civilians include that objective.

    Same usually goes for civilian hostages.

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, are you serious? So at the end of Call of Duty, we have a interactive trial where the US soldiers are tried for war crimes? Are you nuts? Or when you violate a war crime, you get docked 100 points? What in Gods name are you talking about?

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    try to make out that what a game is, in fact, is a forerunner, a warm up to 'the real thing'


    Yes, they do. But that's a case of believing something because they really, really, really want it to be true rather than because there's even the slightest shred of evidence that it's true.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    The other thing is that they aren't, in fact, anything like realistic. For good reason: actual realism wouldn't be any fun. Get shot once and be put out of the action? No fun. Get injured and have to wait a couple of weeks to heal before you can play again? No fun. Etc...

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What? No. I meant relating what the red cross is doing to the comic code authority is a slippery slope. The CCA banned the words "crime", "terror", etc... The ICRC mearly wants humanitarian law recognized in games, rather than ignored entirely. Also, the CCA was mandatory, ICRC is talking to publishers who have the right to refuse. Comparing the two is like saying an ant bite is the same as a snake bite.

    According to the ICRC article the quote above is from. Here

    Won't this make the games preachy or boring?
    "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..."

    Therefore, your liking of the ICRC to the CCA is an overreaction.

    Bam!

    /argument

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    your likining* of the ICRC to the CCA

     

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    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Interestingly, the only game that I can recall playing that penalized in any way for in-game violations (e.g., shooting an incapacitated enemy) was made by the U.S. Army (America's Army).

     

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    Postulator (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:49pm

    Are war crimes in books punished in the book? Certainly not in Tom Clancy's world, where the US ran rampant after someone offended against it.

    And religious texts such as the Bible detail some atrocious crimes against humanity. I don't recall anyone being penalised for them though - in fact God is generally the cheerleader.

     

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    Postulator (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Watchit, I think you mean "likening".

     

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    Watchit (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes! That is the word, Thanks!

     

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    John Konrad, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    What about Spec Ops: The Line?

    It penalized you for playing the game in the first place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 7:56pm

    Re: I have a better idea...

    Or automate the punishment of speech in games, that tend to subvert the Constitution for speech in games. I.e. Red Cross can get shot at (but only in games) contingent on Red Cross speech of this kind.

    Since the punishment would be extrajudicial (it would be a war crime within the game) it would not itself be a violation of the First Amendment within the game.

    Also Vladimir Putin would be punished, but only in games, for speeches he made restricting human rights in real life, as well as punishment of random countries in games that don't even exist for attacking each other for no reason in games. All of this would happen in real life or the game company would be punished in real life.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re:

    Games are already full of these. Don't you know? They're peeking at your extraludic data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 8:14pm

    Re:

    What! You want to separate your own powers? Is that realistic?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    Re:

    Yet in that context, it makes for an interesting restriction. War with rules.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2013 @ 1:23am

    Realistic: Careful what you wish for

    Okay so realistic behavior would be training freaking rape-dogs (I really wish I was making that up. If there is a hell Pinochet is burning within it.) for use on political prisoners would you get you amnesty in the UK but a shaky clearly politically trumped up trap of an accusation would get you stuck in an embassy to avoid being sent for "questioning".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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