Red Cross blasts rumor: gamers NOT war criminals

Swiss-based humanitarian group The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was forced to deny rumors Thursday it was planning to hold gamers accountable for violent gameplay crimes under the rules of the Geneva Convention.

So pull out your console from under the couch and carry on.

The strange rumor was started when Kotaku first reported members of the ICRC were looking into video game violence, hoping to get developers to incorporate rules of the Geneva Convention in gameplay scenarios to raise awareness for war crimes. Other media outlets caught a whiff of the story but missed a step, and reported the Red Cross might actually prosecute gamers themselves.

As my mother always says, you know what happens when you "assume …"

Naturally, the rumor raised hackles all over the world. Some felt the ICRC was wasting time looking into video games. Others felt surely the Red Cross hadn't read the reports of helpful gamers helping scientists find cures for HIV or locate new planets.

To put rest to the story the ICRC was forced to clarify "serious violations of the laws of war can only be committed in real-life situations." That said, they do have an interest in ways "the rules could feature in simulations."

Not only do they want to raise awareness of international humanitarian law in general, but also because some game companies also develop war simulations for armed forces. The ICRC trains armies how to abide by the rules of war that forbid targeting civilians so they felt the interest was relevant.

It raises interesting questions —CAN battlefield games and shooters co-exist with "rules for combat?" Is gameplay just gameplay?

Huffington Post, via Huffington Post UK, via Kotaku.

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