While you typically play a hero in military shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, some of your actions aren't exactly heroic. You've likely partaken in more than a few actions that international law would frown upon, to put it mildly.
If so, the Red Cross wants a fitting in-game punishment for your crimes.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling on game publishers to penalize players who violate real-world international war conventions. But before you start complaining about "censorship" or "overreaction," the Red Cross wants to make it clear that they're not looking for these moments to ripped out of games.
"We're not asking for censorship, we don't want to take any elements out of the games," said spokesperson Bernard Barrett. "We're not trying to make games boring or preachy, but we’re hoping that the ones that offer a realistic portrayal of a modern battlefield can incorporate some sort of reward or penalties depending on whether they follow the basic rules of armed conflict."
The Red Cross in concerned that some game situations can trivialize violations of the Geneva Convention. And it worries that in doing so, it could open the door for those actions to be considered acceptable on the battlefield.
Among the areas of concern: Torture sequences, shooting civilians and killing prisoners.
Barrett also noted that the agency's concern was focused on games that mimic contemporary armed conflicts, though he stopped short of naming the obvious candidates: Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Medal of Honor. Other genres, like fantasy games, weren't a focus, he added.
While the request might take some of the spontaneity out of modern action games, it could potentially give them bragging rights in the ongoing fight over which games is more true-to-life.
"It’s just making it more realistic, the same way the military has rules on the battlefield, then gamers have the same rules," says Barrett.
Of course, previous studies have yet to determine a causal link between in-game and real-world violence, which could derail the Red Cross's argument. Observers are keeping a close eye on a study by the CDC, however, as the issue continues to simmer on the political radar.
I would also argue that NO game currently on the market...not a single one is even remotely close to imitating any sort of realistic combat scenario much less realistic warfare. (I'm a combat vet from Afghanistan/Iraq and am currently employed by a government contractor working with military intelligence).
Besides, the stuff on CoD/Battlefield series/etc. really happens (killing of prisoners, civilians, torture, et al). It's just not publicized or no one ever finds out... I'm not saying it's "legal" (whatever that means)...but it does happen and no one gets punished for it.
Essentially all that the Geneva Conventions (the Geneva Accords are treaties ending standing conflicts, like the treaty which ended French colonialism in Indochina was a Geneva Accord) do is lay down international standards for the treatment of hors de combat.
Don't kill wounded unless you really have to, don't kill civilians unless you can't help it.
They are often mistaken for the Hague Conventions, which attempted restrict conduct. And failed. And that's a mistake I think you are making.
In basic they don't really ram what the conventions and treaties that set up the international laws are so much as they ram the nitty-gritty thou shalts and thou shalt nots that were the result of them. It's almost funny...most front line soldiers and other front line operatives hate JAG officers and UN regulators trying to tell them how to do their job from behind a desk rather than from behind a rifle. Case in point the sniper who could have killed Bin Laden but was called off because of legalities (under Clinton's administration, I believe). I've been in enough situations to know that what is legal according to international law and what makes the most sense and/or is the safest and "right" thing to do are all too often at opposite ends of the spectrum.
No matter what conventions/treaties/what-have-yous are called, I've always thought that the notion of "international laws" is a bit (okay, a lot) ridiculous. If you have a law, it needs enforced. To enforce a law, you need to be held to a higher standard than those under the law. To be held to a higher standard, you need to have someone (or something) higher up in the pecking order than the enforcers and those subject to the law and they have to be respected. If a law is international, who is higher up in the pecking order and commands the amount of respect that is required to effectively enforce said law? And for the record, I don't believe for a minute that any person or organization (much less a political organization like a nation) is able to effectively self-police for any length of time.