Red Cross Urges Gamers to Stop Committing War Crimes

war crimes in games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

When it comes to military-style computer video games, realism sells.

In first-person shooter games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, players are virtual participants in realistic battlefield scenarios inspired by and often based on actual combat situations in real conflict zones.

We all know that games have rules. But did you know that wars have rules? Or at least they’re supposed to!

The rules of war, also known as international humanitarian law (IHL), consists of international rules that set out what can and cannot be done during an armed conflict.

The Geneva Convention first established humane rules of war in 1864, and these rules were re-negotiated in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II.

International humanitarian law aims to protect people who are not fighting in the conflict and helps curb the brutality of war by setting limits on the weapons and tactics that can be employed.

For example, water sources, crops, livestock and civilian housing—anything key to survival for those not involved in the conflict itself—should not be harmed. Likewise, cultural property such as historic monuments, works of art, and archaeological sites are protected by IHL.

The main goal is to maintain some dignity and humanity in armed conflicts, while saving lives and reducing suffering.

Unfortunately, these rules are too often ignored in conflict zones around the world. But even though we can’t change what some barbarians do in real life, at least we can be good citizens and not be cruel when fighting virtual battles in games, right?

The Red Cross is challenging gamers to apply the following tenets to your favorite FPS games, so as to not commit virtual war crimes.

  • No thirsting
    • When an enemy is down or unresponsive, please don’t keep shooting at them.
  • No targeting non-violent NPCs
    • Bots that don’t fire unprovoked are considered civilians and must not be attacked.
  • No targeting civilian buildings
    • Civilian and cultural infrastructures (homes, schools, churches, hospitals) are protected areas.
  • Use med kits on everyone
    • You must offer medical help to those who need it, be they friends or enemies.

The Red Cross says, “Every day, people play games set in conflict zones right from their couch. But right now, armed conflicts are more prevalent than ever. And to the people suffering from their effects, this conflict is not a game. It destroys lives and leaves communities devastated. Therefore, we’re challenging you to play FPS by the real Rules of War, to show everyone that even wars have rules—rules which protect humanity on battlefields IRL.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross recently partnered with a bunch of Twitch streamers to encourage players to not commit war crimes in popular shooters. Popular gamers recently streamed the likes of Escape From Tarkov, Call Of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, PUBG and Rainbow Six Siege – all while following the rules of war. You can catch up on the streams here.

Will you commit to play by the rules of war in your favorite FPS game? Why or why not? Leave a comment!

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