Red Cross wants to see FPS games respect the laws of war



10:00 AM on 12.09.2011

The  International Committee of the Red Cross recently caused a stir by implying that military first-person-shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield might (fictionally) break international armed conflict laws with its hyper-realistic depictions of violence. In a new FAQ on its site, the ICRC said games have the potential to raise awareness of humanitarian law, and it would like to see them rise to that challenge.

"In real life, armed forces are subject to the laws of armed conflict," said the organization. "Video games simulating the experience of armed forces therefore have the potential to raise awareness of the rules that those forces must comply with whenever they engage in armed conflict -- this is one of the things that interests the ICRC. As a matter of fact, certain video games already take into account how real-life military personnel are trained to behave in conflict situations.

"... The ICRC has expressed its readiness to engage in a dialogue with the video gaming industry in order to explore the place of humanitarian rules in games. The ICRC welcomes the fact that certain video games on war-related themes already take the law of armed conflict into account."

While some were worried that the ICRC wanted to have games tried for war crimes, its actual concerns are legitimately interesting. I'd love to see it working with developers to create a game about this very subject. It'd definitely add a new element to the "military FPS" genre.


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Jim Sterling

Former Reviews Editor