Many video games model war, but few of them choose to deal with the moral complexities of modern conflict in a realistic way. Arma 3, the military simulation game from Bohemia Interactive, seeks to change that with a bold new piece of downloadable content created in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In Laws of War, a new DLC module out now, players will step into the role of an international humanitarian aid worker. They will be tasked with clearing unexploded ordinance from the same battlefields which they fought over in the base game. In the roughly five-hour mini-campaign, players will also see that conflict from all sides through a series of flashbacks. Transitions will put players on both sides of the battlefield, and also in the shoes of civilians caught in the crossfire.
As a framework for the campaign, creative director Jay Crowe said that his team used the actual laws of war, set down in the Geneva Convention and other documents, as a guide.
“It comes down to just a few basic rules of combat,” Crowe said, “and the first is maybe the most obvious: Only engage combatants or fighters. Secondly, don’t attack anything other than military targets which means that places like hospitals and schools are typically off limits. Thirdly, spare civilians and respect their property. And finally, armed forces should limit destruction to what military necessity requires.”
To accomplish their design goals, the team at Bohemia Interactive added a new faction to the game. Called the International Development and Aid Project (IDAP), it’s clearly a stand-in for the ICRC. The fictional multinational, non-governmental organization specializes in rapid response to humanitarian disasters and plays a “leading role in protecting and promoting the laws of war” said BI. Everyone who owns Arma 3 will get the IDAP showcase, which touches on the fictional organization, their mission and the laws of war for free.
The for-pay DLC includes the miniature campaign, but also additional assets like improved cluster munitions, air-dropped weapons that damage a large area and have been prohibited via a treaty signed by more than 100 countries.
The DLC was created in part as a collaboration between Bohemia Interactive and the ICRC. As such, half of the net revenue from sales of the module (not bundles containing the module) will be donated to the ICRC in 2018.
It’s not the first time that the two organizations have worked together. In 2013 the ICRC participated in an official Arma 3 mod contest, titled Make Arma Not War. One of the categories was called the Health Care in Danger Special Award. It was given to mod for the base game which covered “the topic of ‘health care in danger’ the best” according to the website.
The creator of the winning mod called, “Pilot Civilian Air Rescue,” was awarded a week-long trip to an ICRC mission in a foreign country.