The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has asked the computer games industry to stop rewarding players who commit online atrocities. According to an ICRC statement developers should consider building “virtual consequences” for war crimes into their video games.
“Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes. Game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes.”
The ICRC believes that violent video games trivialises armed conflict to the point where players could see various brands of mayhem as acceptable behaviour. But it added that it did not want to be actively involved in a debate over video-game violence, although it is talking to developers about ways to accurately build the laws of armed conflict into games. Violations do 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, the ICRC said.
Of course that does not include games that incorporate either fantasy or science-fiction warfare. There were no blue hatted UN soldiers in Lord of the Rings, separating the Orcs from the Men of Gondor. But the ICRC is worried about battlefield simulations such as Call of Duty.