The Red Cross has called upon game studios to take into account the real-world repercussions of war crimes in games.
Speaking with the BBC
Francois Senechaud of the International Committee of Red Cross said that with the increasing visual verisimilitude between real combat and virtual combat depicted in leading action games, realistic punishments for internationally recognized laws of war must be acknowledged.
"Video games that are representing battlefields... are very close to reality and actually it's very difficult to [tell] the difference between real footage and the footage you can get from video games. We are arguing that we have to get even closer to reality and we also have to include the rules of... conflict [as well]," said Senechaud.
Many action games feature systems or scenarios that enable the player to participate in war crimes, if not with explicit rewards then often with an implicit lack of penalty -- such as shooting civilians (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
), torturing interrogation subjects (Splinter Cell: Blacklist
), or stealing the dog tags of enemy combatants (Metal Gear Solid 2
). Real-world violations of these laws carry heavy penalties, including imprisonment or, in certain cases, execution.
So while the Red Cross is explicitly not
arguing, say, that every depiction of warfare in even the most cartoonish of games needs to provide repercussions for these acts, it does raise a point: do games which bill themselves on their visual and thematic realism need to provide realistic consequences as well?