Red Cross
The International Red Cross will not be prosecuting gamers for war crimes but hopes to improve the video game view of humanitarian law. Image: Flickr / sarahvain / CC-BY

At the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross, a concern was raised that some video games could be violating International Humanitarian Law. Essentially, the Red Cross was discussing the possibility that millions of gamers could be guilty of war crimes.

Red Cross concerns

At their 31st annual conference, delegates of the International Red Cross discussed the implications of International Humanitarian Law on video games.

“Exactly how video games 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,”

The Conference has the rights, under the United Nations, to enforce the Geneva convention, which the Conference claims is violated by many video games.

Concern about inspiration

The ICRC’s biggest concern about many of these video games is that the virtual war crimes could be inspiring actual war crimes. Many video game producers also produce war simulations that are used in training soldiers and special forces. In short, the use of video games to train troops or by individuals that may later go into war could be inspiring war crimes and acts of violence that violate human rights.

No prosecution for gamers

When the media began reporting that the ICRC was going to be prosecuting individuals for war crimes, the committee came out strongly against it. The statement released sets the record straight by saying “serious violations of the laws of war can only be committed in real-life situations.” The ICRC only wants to work with video game developers to bring video games more into line with the Geneva convention on human rights.

A link to aggression

According to the American Psychological Association, there is a link between violent video games and violent actions. Extended exposure to video game violence, including cartoonish or unrealistic violence, is correlated with increased aggression and violent actions. The correlation between longitudinal studies of video game violence and real-life violence is not strong, but it does exist.

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