Red Cross says violent videogames may violate Geneva conventions

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Dec 16, 2012

Independent watch groups, psychologists and concerned parents have been trying to limit violence in videogames since before characters could pick up prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto. But now videogames are under scrutiny from an unlikely—but very powerful—source: the Red Cross.

According to Kotaku:

"One of the world's largest and most respected humanitarian groups in the world is investigating whether the Geneva and Hague conventions should be applied to the fictional recreation of war in video games."

The Red Cross, the multiple-Nobel-prize-winning organization that treats victims of war and conflict, is concerned that war simulations, such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, depict violations of international humanitarian law (IHL).

Kotaku reports that during the recent 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the group held an event to address their "role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in videogames."

The Red Cross takes its role and responsibility very seriously: Wikipedia says the Red Cross is "the only institution explicitly named under international humanitarian law [aka the Geneva Convention] as a controlling authority."

Combat simulations that strive for authenticity, such as Battlefield 3, which is set on the Iran-Iraq border, might want to include a Red Cross presence, as the Red Cross likely has a base camp there now. However, war games set on other worlds might pose some challenges.

Kotaku followed up with Rich Taylor, senior VP for communications and industry affairs at the Entertainment Software Association:

"We cannot comment on the merits or specifics of the International Committee of the Red Cross proposal [that videogame developers include IHL into their games] because we have not discussed this with them directly or seen any specifics of their meeting. However, we are immovably committed to developers' rights for creative freedom and in achieving their artistic vision."

Is the Entertainment Software Association trying to smack down the Red Cross, one of the planet's most respected authorities? It looks like we're going to have another war on our hands.

Note: The Red Cross' concerns seem only to apply to war-based videogames. In other words, because Portal and Portal 2 are set at Aperture Science Enrichment Center, GLADoS would be free to wreak her own particular brand of testing havoc. For science.

(via The Huffington Post)