Does Your Videogame Comply With International Law?

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Does Your Videogame Comply With International Law?

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A new study published by two Swiss groups has found that players in videogames often have trouble complying with International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Criminal Law as it would be applied in real-world situations.

Put together by Pro Juventute, a children's rights group, and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always), which promotes international criminal law, the study looked at 19 videogames, all shooters that take place in "armed conflict scenarios" of different types and even from different eras. The games were selected based on "extensive research on recent or popular" releases and gamers were hired and given a list of violations to look for and record while they played. A few of the games were played by the hired gamers while members of TRIAL and Pro Juventute watched, to ensure the games were being observed appropriately.

The task was made more complex by the very nature of videogames, which the observers apparently had trouble with at times. "Analyzers sometimes had difficulties understanding the plot of the game and the context of the scenes. The games are very complex and the players are often given various possibilities to achieve their goals, thus making it difficult to determine which means and methods are available to the player and which rules apply," the report said. "In addition, because the games are controlled to a great extent by the player, a player of a particular game may see very different types of content than another, depending on the choices he or she makes. Thus, it is almost impossible to assure, despite engaging for many hours in game play, that all possible violations are found, or that in those games showing no violations, there exist indeed none."

Violations discovered in the game range from the relatively mild and common "destruction of civilian property" to the "strong violation" that results from torturing the hell out of a guy in 24: The Game. Battlefield: Bad Company loses points for allowing players to take gold and treasures from destroyed civilian houses, which amounts to pillaging (strictly prohibited under IHL) while Frontlines: Fuels of War gets a beef for the inclusion of cluster bombs. No violations were found in Close Combat: First to Fight, however, and games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Rainbow 6 Vegas are noted for actually imposing restrictions on the player's actions that comply with international law.

Videogames, the study concluded, aren't exactly conducive to compliance with international law and the authors would like to see that changed. "We believe and we have seen, in the course of playing different games, that punishing illegal conduct in video and computer games can be done and is, in fact, already done in some of the most popular games," they wrote. "However most of the time this is done partially, that is, limited to specific scenes or to only a few violations, allowing the commission of many others. The incorporation of rules of IHL and IHRL in a consistent manner in video and computer games is not only possible, but would surely render the games more interesting and would create players with a more accurate perspective of what is lawful and what is not in real armed conflict situations or law enforcement operations."

And oh yes, wouldn't that be fun? In all honesty I think a semi-educational shooter or strategy game in which international laws are laid out and enforced would be fantastic, but most of the time when I fire up an FPS I just want to shoot some guys. Seems to me that somebody in Switzerland has the wrong idea of what games are supposed to be about. Grab a copy of the report and see what you think right here. (PDF format)

via: GamePolitics

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"Metal Gear Soldier 4"?

Seems like it kind of hurts your credibility when you repeatedly get a name wrong, doesn't it?

I love how they are bitching at Bad Company for the fact that they steal gold in that game, when it is CLEARLY pointed out in the game itself, that it's not allowed to do so.

Hehehehe, i read this before if i remember. Metal gear solid was there for murder methinks, makes me wonder if they ever did a no kills run :D

Does Your Videogame Comply With Internation Law?

International, surely?

Seems to me that somebody in Switzerland has the wrong idea of what games are supposed to be about

This should come as no surprise to anyone. It's hardly a first.

zzzZZZzzzZZZzzzz. What a NON issue. The reason this website is called "The Escapist" is because the VAST majority of gamers worldwide, both "hardcore" and "casual", use video games for the same purpose: to escape the confines and lexicon of everyday living.

So to all you whiney, liberal, pc jerks out there..... SHUT UP AND LET ME PLAY MY GAMES!

Powerman88:
zzzZZZzzzZZZzzzz. What a NON issue. The reason this website is called "The Escapist" is because the VAST majority of gamers worldwide, both "hardcore" and "casual", use video games for the same purpose: to escape the confines and lexicon of everyday living.

So to all you whiney, liberal, pc jerks out there..... SHUT UP AND LET ME PLAY MY GAMES!

Several of the games that are in violation of these "laws" are on the PC...

So another company trying to demonize games? I think next we should start putting laws on what violates IHL in movies. I'm sure there's got to be something about depicting the copious torture and mass murders that take place in the Saw franchise.

You know... actually, games aiming for at least semi-serious representation of war should enforce international war-related laws. Somehow, this idea seems intresting.

Flying-Emu:

Several of the games that are in violation of these "laws" are on the PC...

Guy meant "Politically Correct", actually.

Flying-Emu:
Several of the games that are in violation of these "laws" are on the PC...

[insert image of astronomically epic facepalm]

PC = Political correctness.

Edit: GAH! Ninja'd

Now I want someone to make a game called "Violate the Geneva Convention" where you repeatedly break said international laws.

More realism in games?! BORING!

I wonder how many violations if you went through any 1 movie, let alone an action movie.

To Swedish researchers: why so serious?

Shouldn't we be fighting for things like this though? To be rid of things like the infamous airport level. Not because games are bad or they can't tell a story. That they are corrupting our youth and changing nice kids into homicidal maniacs. No nothing like that. When you encounter something like that you tell yourself it is ok to mow down all these civilians because it is just a game. And the very second that thought comes in immersion flies out the window.

Ha, ha, ha!

An amazingly comical article!
Wait, it was serious?

Seriously, I doubt the characters in the game care about the laws being violated and games are meant to be a realease, not a pre-planning of real-life actions.
Thus, it makes sense in the story of some games to violate laws.

Stealing and murdering being the chief "fun" aspect of most popular games, because most of us would never do anything like that in real life.

squid5580:
Shouldn't we be fighting for things like this though? To be rid of things like the infamous airport level. Not because games are bad or they can't tell a story. That they are corrupting our youth and changing nice kids into homicidal maniacs. No nothing like that. When you encounter something like that you tell yourself it is ok to mow down all these civilians because it is just a game. And the very second that thought comes in immersion flies out the window.

But yet, not having it there would break immersion because they'd do some "obviously a game" way of explaining it, wouldn't they?

To be honest this doesn't worry me at all. I believe this kind of "study" will never amount to anything, the only reason these people are not a dying breed yet is FOX.

Also:
"The incorporation of rules of IHL and IHRL in a consistent manner in video and computer games is not only possible, but would surely render the games more interesting and would create players with a more accurate perspective of what is lawful and what is not in real armed conflict situations or law enforcement operations."
I don't want realism, I want to shoot an old woman in the face and take her money, dammit.

Who gives a crap if my video games comply with any law any where on Earth? Fuck them and the horse they rode in on. GTA breaks ever known law of America besides child molestation and rape. It most likely breaks every law in most other countries as well. Equally who gives a shit if some war games break the theoretical bounds of international war laws? IT IS A FUCKING VIDEO GAME. This study is so damned stupid is hurts my brain.

As an American, I'm too cool to comply with international laws. Why should my video games?

I could care less if my video games comply with International Law. It's a damn video game! If I want to shoot someone in the face point blank with a pixelated shotgun, then I will do so. It doesn't mean I'm going to go on a shooting spree in real life.

These guys should play SWAT 4. You can't shoot criminals holding people hostage unless they fire a shot, or point their guns at you or a civilian. You can only yell at them (or throw a grenade at them, but oh well)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8373794.stm

Meanwhile, over at the BBC...

BBC:
The group chose games, rather than films, because of their interactivity.

But we all know they really mean

BBC:
The group chose games, rather than films, because they were an easy target.

FICTION!!!! FICTION!!! FICTION!!!! Are these people morons? We're not being trained to go to war, we're having a relaxing night in of slaughter and maiming! I mean I play GTA with mad abandon, but I don't drive on the footpath and run over people! God, why should games apply international law when most countries don't! I'm looking at your America...and you Israel...and you Britain...and you you EVERY EU country that allowed extraordinary rendition flights...and that's without going outside supposed "advanced Western democracies"!!! Ye gawds!!! Go spend money and time looking at things that actually help or hinder REAL human life!

Sebenko:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8373794.stm

Meanwhile, over at the BBC...

BBC:
The group chose games, rather than films, because of their interactivity.

But we all know they really mean

BBC:
The group chose games, rather than films, because they were an easy target.

You would think that films would be a better choice, seeing as in a game you have to think about things like your next objective. You don't sit there wondering if accidentally killing someone is a violation of law. You keep on moving so you don't get shot again. There's a reason we have so many film critics watching movies. It's easier to take them apart as they go.

Malygris:

And oh yes, wouldn't that be fun? In all honesty I think a semi-educational shooter or strategy game in which international laws are laid out and enforced would be fantastic, but most of the time when I fire up an FPS I just want to shoot some guys.

Oh yea, because having to restart for accidental friendly fire was the coolest part of COD4.

But yea I'd be all for a game that's about extreme realism. Just one, so I wouldn't necessarily have to play it. Because I'm sure I'd suck at it and never figure it out.

TF2 violates the Geneva Convention!! The losing team surrenders and still gets shoot at!

WHERE IS THE UN!!??

"A new study published by two Swiss groups has found that players in videogames often have trouble complying with International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Criminal Law as it would be applied in real-world situations"....thats because its not a real life situation. Video games allow you to do things you would never everrrrrrrrrr do in real life.

The Swiss, bankers to dictators and tax evaders the world 'round, don't exactly have much credibility when it comes to international law and human rights.

Despite the fact I hate karma meters, I do say it might be kind of fun to explore the idea of a modern fps with a morality system where your game is impacted every time you break international law. A fun concept to think about but I am already thinking about problems the game would have.

They should have tested Swat 4, now that's a game that restricts you to following the law

All in all, they did a pretty good job for a bunch of peaceniks--I mean, at the very least they figured out that there's more than one way to play a game. That's better than 99% of authority figures who decide to weigh in on games.

rainman2203:
As an American, I'm too cool to comply with international laws. Why should my video games?

win statement, right here!

well i guess the small syrian village i plastered with 155mm arty rounds turning it into piles of smoking rubble on the off chance there was a forward observer and maybe some rpg teams in it in combat mission shock force did kind of violate international law

Wait, interantional law?
Isn't that the thing that gets broken like, all the time in Africa and Asia?
Or, you know, any time a war hapens and someone gets fed a crummy meal. Or when you shoot someone who tries to surrender.

International law always reminds me of the thing I read in history. How knights tried to get crossbows banned because they could kill knights in full plate.
International law is as much a joke as begging bullies for mercy. You look pathetic, and they laugh at your feeble efforts.
Point being, If you have a problem with how people beat you; trying beating them for a change. Stop wimping out, fight to win, etc...

Crazy swiss people. Trying to legislate morality.

Malygris:
"The incorporation of rules of IHL and IHRL in a consistent manner in video and computer games is not only possible, but would surely render the games more interesting and would create players with a more accurate perspective of what is lawful and what is not in real armed conflict situations or law enforcement operations."

First thing that came to my mind was the end of that Onion News video on Modern Warfare 3, where they mention the Wii version that comes with the authentically styled and weighted machine gun controller that you have to carry around for hours but aren't allowed to shoot without explicit orders.

Second thought was, while the average game doesn't include all international laws, does that mean the average gamer would be more likely to violate those laws in the real world (i.e. not in a videogame fantasy world, assuming that most gamers can tell the difference between the two just fine, thank you)?

Tell you what: next time I'm actually undercover trying to expose a Russian terrorist cell, you're more than free to count up how many international laws I break, ok?

The Swiss evidently felt the need to remind the world that they are spineless pansies and whiny killjoys. We hear ya boys!

I'd like to remind everyone that the most commonly used tool on the Swiss Army Knife is the bottle opener.

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