The International Red Cross isn’t against allowing players to go against the established laws of armed conflict in their video game battles — it just wants to make sure those violations don’t go unpunished.
One might expect an international humanitarian organisation to look down on video games featuring realistic depictions of modern-day military conflict, but the International Council of the Red Cross‘ view of the matter is refreshingly forward-thinking. War happens, and video games like Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA III can be used to train current and future soldiers how to react in an armed conflict, as long as the letter of the law is enforced.
From the organisation’s website:
The ICRC believes there is a place for international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) in video games. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has publicly stated its interest in the implications of video games that simulate real-war situations and the opportunities such games present for spreading knowledge of the law of armed conflict. The rules on the use of force in armed conflict should be applied to video games that portray realistic battlefield scenes, in the same way that the laws of physics are applied.
Areas of concern include scenes of torture, attacks on civilians, the killing of prisoners and the wound, attacks on medical personnel. Rather than rail against the potential of situations like these arising in video war games, the ICRC believes they should be included, along with appropriate consequences, to educate players on the real rules of engagement.
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.
And when they say punishment, they aren’t talking about pop-up messages or long, boring lists of violations. They’re talking about games having mechanics built-in where the consequences occur as they would in real-life.
The International Council or the Red Cross is ready to work with the makers of war video games to add what could ultimately add a great deal of value to an otherwise fire-and-forget experience, preparing soldiers for war as well as helping them cope.