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Red Cross pushes for war crime punishment in video games

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The International Committee of the Red Cross is working with game developers to ensure titles dealing with armed conflict include virtual consequences — including actions that in real-life combat "would be considered war crimes."

The ICRC is not suggesting that games completely eradicate war and violence, which it calls an unrealistic move. Instead, the organization argues that violations happen on real battlefields and should be included in games.

"Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes," the organization's website reads. "This already exists in several conflict simulation games. Game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes."

This reasoning applies to scenarios such as torture and interrogation or attacks on civilians. The ICRC is not interested in policing all games, but only those that mimic armed conflict.

In the video above, Bohemia Interactive director Ivan Buchta discusses how the ICRC's proposition can help make games feel "more authentic." Bohemia Interactive is currently working on Arma 3.

"When we were first approached by the ICRC with the offer to consult on international humanitarian law, my first thought was, ‘wow, we'll learn something new we can put into games,'" Buchta said.

In 2011, the ICRC investigated whether Geneva and Hague conventions should be applied to war recreation in video games. The organization hoped to raise awareness of the rules practiced in real warfare.