Red Cross Investigating Virtual War Crimes

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Red Cross Investigating Virtual War Crimes

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The International Committee of the Red Cross may want the rules of the Geneva Convention applied to videogames.

At the 31st meeting of the International Committee of the Red Cross, held this week to discuss many issues in modern combat throughout the world, a smaller panel was convened to discuss videogames and the effect they have on the public. Specifically, the Red Cross investigated several games that depict modern warfare and examined whether the rules of the Geneva Conventions governing protections for wounded soldiers, civilian non-combatants, and prisoners of war should be applied to videogames.

"While the Movement works vigorously to promote international humanitarian law (IHL) worldwide, there is also an audience of approximately 600 million gamers who may be violating IHL in the virtual world," reads the description for the discussion. "Exactly how videogames influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games."

For those of you unfamiliar with the Geneva Conventions, here's a fifteen second history lesson. The First Geneva Convention was held in the city of Geneva in 1864 and all the major European powers at the time ratified an agreement dictating the engagement of war and guaranteed protections for wounded and sick soldiers. The Convention agreed that medical personnel are protected and soldiers would not be experimented upon or tortured. As war changed, the Convention met three more times and included more nations, the last of which, in 1949, outlined the international humanitarian law that is upheld in all modern warfare today by nearly all nations on the planet. The International Committee of the Red Cross, formed in 1863, organized these conventions and is instrumental in keeping their tenets observed during warfare.

So what does any of this have to do with Modern Warfare 3?

"Participants were asked: 'What should we do, and what is the most effective method?'" continued the description for the discussion. "While National Societies shared their experiences and opinions, there is clearly no simple answer. There is, however, an overall consensus and motivation to take action."

There was also a video "promoting" the event, which seems to draw comparisons between scorekeeping in sports events and scorekeeping in online shooters.

While it is certainly worthy of discussion how so many games depicting warfare don't actually uphold the rules of engagement which govern behavior in modern war, I fail to see what the Red Cross can or should do about it. Any attempt to write laws or rules about how war can be portrayed in a game would be doomed to failure. The Geneva Conventions have no jurisdiction over our imaginations or creative works, and The Red Cross cannot dictate whether a movie hero tortures a non-combatant or blows up a bus full of nuns on the way to saving the President of the U.N.

Source: IFRC.org

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I'll say here what I said on the other thread: When you say something to the tune of "Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games", you've lost all chances of being taken seriously.

Much bigger fish to fry

Wonderful. Perhaps they should hang me for all the war crimes I committed playing Risk or Battleship.

lol, you can't commit actual war crimes (you can commit war crimes, but they are within the context of the story you are playing through and characters you are controlling) in video games. By rights of being the protagonist, you are pretty much the exception to the rule in every modern warfare game to exist. That is simply absurd.

I'm pretty sure anyone else sane would agree with me.

Red Cross, I really like you and your services to humanity, but seriously..

So does that mean if developers make the enemy forces a country did not sign the treaty, then there's no problem?

Because if so, that's mighty large loophole. Especially because those countries are usually unspecifiedistan.

*PROMOTED: CAPTAIN*
Unlocks White Flag and complicated dialogue.

*PROMOTED MAJOR*
Unlocks tedious tribunal proceedings determining whether or not that noob tube kill was sanctioned by the UN

...................Yeah, the rip roaring fun of future shooters people.

I said it in the first thread and I'll say it again if they can't tell the difference between video games and real life I don't think its gamers with issues

also I think there trying to get laws past which is equally nutty Imagine that that whats next you have to follow the laws of the real world in books and movies its insane

What about movies? Or books? I thought the point of a fictional engagement or conflict was that it was FICTIONAL.

Oy! Keep your convention bollocks out of my games! Well, you can try to make it apply, but only if you do it for books, theatre and movies as well. Didn't think so.

So piss off. Go help the Libians, Syrians or the Egyptians or something. They're hurt (and shot) by their own government. Go help 'em. And get of our backs.

My god! How many novelists have violated the IHL?

And Shindler's List should be banned!

Yes, I see... teabagging will be an international offense. Finally someone got my letters.

:P What about "virtual world" (their words) do they not get? It's fiction. Fake. Not real. The same can be said about books, and movies. There's some sick shit in sequenced letters and words. Not to mention in arts and crafts. But video games are somehow more real than these mediums?

Disappointed.

wooty:
*PROMOTED: CAPTAIN*
Unlocks White Flag and complicated dialogue.

*PROMOTED MAJOR*
Unlocks tedious tribunal proceedings determining whether or not that noob tube kill was sanctioned by the UN

...................Yeah, the rip roaring fun of future shooters people.

Don't forget getting court martialed and dishonorably discharged! The excitement is palpable...

Makes sense to me.

It's kind of like how the real life police force arrested me for speeding in GTA.

Quick hurry up everybody!!! Get your piece of the videogame industry while it's still transitioning to the main stream.

Can they not focus on the 100 of real life issues? This really makes no sense, and I am sorry they and for that matter I, wasted time on it.

Welp, I guess that means writers aren't allowed to make dystopian future books anymore, because WAR CRIMES YO.

Dear Red Cross, you guys do a really good job and are heroes for what you do to help others.
BUT.
Please fuck off about video games, they are FICTIONAL events happening to PIXELS. They do not bring harm to anyone and can even be seen as a form of stress relief. Anyone who is influenced by a game to do evil to others was probably fucked in the head to begin with. Not every gamer is like that.
Yours sincerally,
An exasperatted Gamer tired of people shitting on his hobby.

While the premise of legislation of our imagination is ridiculous, I DO however see some possibilities for including the IHL in "realistic wargames".
Having it included as optional objectives, with some sort of bonus for doing it, could be beneficial in promoting a healthier mindset.

IN A GRIM, DARK WORLD, WHERE ENTIRE COUNTRIES ARE RULED BY VICIOUS WARLORDS THAT RULE THROUGH FEAR AND BRUTALITY...

The Red Cross is targeting fictional war crimes.

Excellent.

So, if this goes through, would all of the leading nations of the world have to reconvene in Geneva to have a serious discussion about Teabagging (as I'm pretty sure placing your testicles in the mouth of incapacitated enemy combatant counts as inflicting undue suffering)?

Does this apply retrospectively, to games taking place before these codes and principles were founded?

Should my Cossacks in AOE III adhere to the Geneva Conventions even though they're created before the codes? I'm pretty sure everytime I play Civ IV I break about a dozen rules and regulations, specifically nuking Genghis Khan. But then I'm playing before 1864 AD... although my technological level is Modern... I ... harmony breaking... down.

...What? Seriously? They do realise no-one actually gets hurt in a game right? It's a game...

This is obviously internet-printers being internet-printers, but it did get me thinking: With the current generation of recruits being raised on FPSs, shouldn't game developers at least acknowledge that there are certain rules about what you simply can't do to the enemy?
Something like the women's bathroom in Deus Ex: Shoot surrendering soldiers and you get chewed out for it by your superiors.

i killed several hundred billion virtual dudes with bio weapon in sots and sots2. zombie plague ftw!.

sue me.

Kezboard:
This is obviously internet-printers being internet-printers, but it did get me thinking: With the current generation of recruits being raised on FPSs, shouldn't game developers at least acknowledge that there are certain rules about what you simply can't do to the enemy?
Something like the women's bathroom in Deus Ex: Shoot surrendering soldiers and you get chewed out for it by your superiors.

People would complain that it ruined their immersion.

So a small panel at at convention decided to talk about how what the convention is about is being conveyed through the medium of videogames, found it to be somewhat lacking & wondered what to do about it. MAN THE BARRICADES!!!!

There's some real insecurity ITT.

"how so many games depicting warfare don't actually uphold the rules of engagement which govern behavior in modern war"

In reality, those rules are NOT upheld in ANY warzone.
It's just lies on paper. There's many individual soldiers in every recent conflict (mind, there have been about 40-50 wars going on globally at every moment SINCE WW II!!!) who LOL at Geneva and it's conventioning.!

What a bunch of pathetic morons. They just want to take the fun out of everything. Go spend your time and money on things that mater you useless cunts.

I think these laws are all bypassed by

A) The lack of civilians in war games at all. Unless they are fodder to cause "shocking" moments. Although it might be interesting to have npc civi bots running around in matches that you aren't allowed to shoot without punishment later on.

B) There are no medics, or wounded. People just die flat out. Or if they are wounded they go into whatever rehash of second chance there is and need to be killed or they will shot you.

But,

The Major disconnect is there is ZERO attachment to your character in a game, they go away, they die and come back, there are no consequences at all for anything you do, good or evil, so what is the point.

We play the games as if we are piloting an infinite supply of drones that have no value at all.(unless it is one of those one life modes, and then you think just a smidge more carefully) Mind you there is still the notion of expending that life for a tactical situation to win the round. I.e Using explosives in a way that will get you killed.( Like in the recent miracle of sound video where you see the guy with the C4 bombing tanks while he is standing right next to it)

Point is you can't punish minutemen for war crimes as they die and get replaced so fast.

Greg Tito:
The Geneva Conventions have no jurisdiction over our imaginations or creative works, and The Red Cross cannot dictate whether a movie hero tortures a non-combatant or blows up a bus full of nuns on the way to saving the President of the U.N.

Soviet Heavy:
What about movies? Or books? I thought the point of a fictional engagement or conflict was that it was FICTIONAL.

Firia:
What about "virtual world" (their words) do they not get? It's fiction. Fake. Not real. The same can be said about books, and movies. There's some sick shit in sequenced letters and words. Not to mention in arts and crafts. But video games are somehow more real than these mediums?

Disappointed.

C'mon guys, that's some pretty lazy and cheeky criticism. The IFRCs problem isn't that it's fictional, their issue is that it's participatory. The 2007 TRIAL report expressed concern at FPS players becoming "virtually violent", not that the games were nasty make-believe.

Now this news can either be a good thing or bad thing for the gaming industry depending on how we respond and the results may suprise us. If 'Courageous Restraint' was included in a few games we may begin to better understand the stresses and frustrations of real front-line troops. Sure, 'escapism' might take a hit, but taking the source material more seriously might open new avenues and ideas for games to explore. Maybe we should wait till we know more about the initative before painting up the protest banners?

It's like this, I think the Red Cross is trying to hold out until the last second on board a sinking ship. While this goes much deeper than the intent of this article reality is like this:

In a REAL war, the biggest bastards win. There are no good guys, or bad guys, only a winner and a loser. If your considering morality in any way, shape, or form, then it's not a real war. If one side is playing by rules of engagement and the other isn't they had best be sure to have them outgunned to a massive degree or they are going to lose... period. It's been so long since powerful nations like the US have been in a real war that we've lost sight of this for a long time, but I think we're starting to regain our understanding of this through both the media (like video games) and observation of world events. Video games showing what a real war is like if your going to win through the brutality involved are basically under criticism for putting reality before political principle.

This was covered in the book "Starship Troopers" and at the very beginning of the movie version to some extent. Personally I prefer to use my own examples in pointing fingers towards Chivalry and Bushido both of which were codes of military conduct and honorable battle. They were great until in the case of Chivalry the side that should have lost decided they didn't want to lose and be conquered and decided to massacre the opposing force with long bows when they took the "field of honor". The Samurai aristocracy got taken down by revolting peasants, in part due to their codes of engagement. A lot of early Japanese martial arts could be summarized as "how to fight dirty against a guy with a sword using modified farm tools".

Right now the world is heading towards one big doozy of a war, indeed if the world ends on 12/21/12 it will probably be due to a war. This was is over economics and trade, not quite the massive battle against an evil empire people like to think of when it comes to war. To put it simply things are coming to a head with China, China has been running a robber economy where it has been violating patents from the first world to produce knockoff goods in sweatshops which it then resells for a fraction of the price. This has lead to China becoming a huge economic power. Rather than increasing the standard of living for it's people however it's been building up it's military and becoming increasingly belligerant. The US cut a deal with China to "borrow" money (to offset what it was losing in taxes) in exchange for not taking direct action hoping that the success in China would have filtered down and changed it's social order. Without going into more details, with the economic state of the US, the issue with it's credit score, and how this affects a lot of nations who have been being similarly screwed (even if a lot of the people there are cheering for the US taking a few lumps, the US isn't the only country losing quadrillions to parent and copyright violations) it's to the point where either China knocks it off and pays repairations, or the rest of the globe eventually collapses and China basically takes over. The thing is though that since China innovates very little (which is not to say nothing at all) that if it DOES knock it off it's going to wind up dropping itself back down into an entirely impoverished hellhole. We're at kind of an impasse, and China has been building up a substantial military to fight with.

I think a lot of people see this coming, some have been talking about the inevitability of an East Vs. West war for decades now as it's creeped closer and closer and the west decided to morally blindfold itself. I think The Red Cross, and various "peace at any price" movements are becoming increasingly freaked out over increasingly trivial things like games as a reaction to it. Especially seeing as anyone with half a brain knows this is going to be about who controls the world, and cultural/societal elimination, as opposed to these glorified police actions we've been calling wars after WW II ended.

Or in short, I think The Red Cross realizes it's moral relevence is slipping and is involved in a bit of QQing as the sad state of reality slips in, and we're seeing that to an extent in media like war games that have beein getting into a "this is how it is" including the brutality, torture, and collateral damage, as opposed to being presented in the antiseptic fashion of a 4-color comic book where the good guys manage to save the day while remaining untouched paragons of left wing virtue.

Are these the same guys that complain because of the red crosses on medical kits in games?

Because that makes me think that they're a bunch of humorless killjoys.

Interesting thought: If killing virtual soldiers is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, would making a mod containing an object that spawns soldiers until it's destroyed make me responsible for creating life? Because if so I'd better drop off the radar for a bit: I've got about six hundred thousand kids. Including some vampires.

This actually make me angry. With all the war crimes happening in the real world right now and they are taking time away from dealing with that, to think about virtual worlds. As I said, actually makes me angry.

If the world was at a period of relative peace, I can see discussions coming up like this without any concerns, as it wouldn't be taken seriously and nothing would come up about it except maybe some developers coming up with some ideas for future games oriented around the idea.
But we are not at relative peace. Terrorism and civil unrest is rampant, even in the countries that are usually the most stable. Yet these people feel they need to examine virtual war? I think as of the time that this conference occurred, the legitimacy of the International Committee of the Red Cross is officially gone. There are more pressing issues going on than to be taking time to talk about something that doesn't affect the world in general.

Of course the legitimacy of the ICRC has always been on tenuous ground. If Nazi Germany had won World War 2, there would have been British, French, Russian, and American leaders being held on trial for war crimes. It isn't about who is right or wrong, it is about who wins.

so they want to control our imaginations...

and next will be our dreams...

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