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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Comments on “Red Cross Pushing For War Crimes In Video Games To Be Punished In Video Games”

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Watchit (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Watchit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.



boomslang says:

“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.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: 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.”

Brazenly anonymous says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!
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.

PaulT (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Bengie says:

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.

Rekrul says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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…

Sychodelix (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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”.

Vikarti Anatra (profile) says:

So if somebody makes a game on Ender’s Game (in addition to book and film) Ender must be punished by official forces for genocide? (and it WAS genocide, even he acknwoledges it. he didn’t knew what he did but is that enough of protection?. Military protects him in his jorneys instead).

What about leadership of Starways Congress who sent fleet with MD to Lusitania and ordered it actual usage.

Earth’s military leadership must be punished for using child soldiers (hey, they even built big space station JUST for training of said child soldiers)

Shepard in Mass Effect must be court-martialed for at least some endings?

What about… Warcraft series? Almost all heroes should be court-martialed

What about Star Craft 2? Stellar converter is very usuful thing in end-game

What about EVE Online MMORPG?
Main punishment for doing something that major empires don’t think is ok to do (attacking civilian ships which doesn’t even armed) that attacker will die and loose your ship
(you can sometimes workaround even this).
(after fixing several exploits CCP declared that if you didn’t die – it’s exploit by definition).
This is not particulary harsh punishment for many immortal capsuleers.
And civilians (or capsuleers in civilian ships) doesn’t have even this protection if they go to less secure space.

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