While trying to stay out of any debate on violence in video games per se, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) is pushing for video game makers to include realistic consequences for players’ actions in video game battlefields. In an article and interview on the ICRC website, the organization argues that while “sanitizing” video games – removing violence or even the opportunity to commit what would, in the real world, be considered war crimes (such as killing civilians, targeting hospitals, or torturing prisoners) – is not in its mandate, or even realistic, neither is it desirable as video games could be a powerful teaching tool about war crimes and their consequences:
“Violations occur on real battlefields and can therefore be included in video games. The ICRC believes it is useful for players to learn from rewards and punishments incorporated into the game, about what is acceptable and what is prohibited in war.”
The ICRC states it is already working with video game developers to implement systems that would reflect the laws of armed conflict, and is careful to state that it is only advocating for these changes in games that depict real-world military conflict, meaning space marines and black mages would be exempted. How excited gamers would be to have the Geneva Conventions apply to their FPSes, however remains to be seen – as does an indication of what kind of support the ICRC may get from major developers.