600 Million Gamers Are Virtually Violating the Geneva Convention?
posted at 5:23 pm on December 8, 2011 by Laura Curtis
The International Committee of the Red Cross evidently has funding and staffers to spare. At a meeting last week, they found the time to discuss what their response should be to the approximately 600 million gamers who may be virtually violating international humanitarian law. Their rationale for this, according to the FAQ, is that
In real life, armed forces are subject to the laws of armed conflict. Video games simulating the experience of armed forces therefore have the potential to raise awareness of the rules that those forces must comply with whenever they engage in armed conflict – this is one of the things that interests the ICRC.
While your Call of Duty addiction isn’t going to score you a free trip to The Hague for a war crimes tribunal, the ICRC is considering a report from the TRIAL organization which suggests ways to regulate gaming companies:
One possible course of action could be to encourage game designers/producers to incorporate [international humanitarian law] in the development and design of video games, while another could be to encourage governments to adopt laws and regulations to regulate this ever-growing industry.
So if persuasion doesn’t work, they’d like to get laws passed that require video game companies to “raise awareness” on behalf of the ICRC. In other words, to do the ICRC’s work for it, without compensation. If this issue is so important to the ICRC, maybe they should partner with a willing gaming company to create a new game which complies with the Geneva and Hague Conventions – something like the US Army’s video game/recruitment tool, America’s Army. Alternatively, they could pay for in-game advertising. But to require private companies to provide free advertising to the ICRC is nanny statism run amok.
The FAQ assures us they have resources for both real-life warfare and for “creating an environment conducive to respect for the dignity of persons affected.” However, in a separate post, the ICRC is asking donors for 1.15 billion Swiss francs (about $1.2 billion) due to the “sudden emergencies in the Middle East and North Africa that began during the first months of this year have resulted in the death, injury and suffering of tens of thousands of people.” Given that, I suggest they spend less time worrying about regulating entertainment and more on those tens of thousands of real-life people.