Japanese gamers debate Red Cross’s call for virtual crimes to be punished

TOKYO —

The International Red Cross has recently been pushing for so-called “hyper realistic” video games to follow international humanitarian laws and penalize players for their in-game crimes, such as gunning down civilians.

Last month, the organization on its Japanese site posted an explanation about why it decided to press for this. As expected, gamers had mixed reactions to the announcement with some decrying the “over-regulation” of their hobby, while many thought it was a much-needed change to the industry.

The international group said that it wanted to raise awareness of the rules that real-world armed forces must abide by in combat. So it wanted video games to follow these international humanitarian laws just like how the games already apply the laws of physics. The Red Cross did not name names, but it told gamers that it is especially concerned with games that depict consequence-free torture, killing of prisoners, attacking medical facilities or vehicles or hunting civilians.

They suggested that the game penalize players for committing war crimes or face in-game consequences for not following humanitarian laws. The Red Cross said it hoped that game-makers would be able to include this kind of moral message in their games without sanitizing the overall experience or becoming “preachy.”

A lot of Japanese gamers on Twitter agreed with the Red Cross and thought that it was about time that video games followed real-world laws.

—I’d like to give a round of applause, but shouldn’t this have been obvious before?
—It would be great if they could remake all the games and release them with this kind of thinking.
—I think a game that fully integrates the Red Cross’s recommendations would actually be very fun.

Other gamers were much less excited about another organization hopping on the knackered old “video games are detrimental to society” bandwagon.

—It’s easy to fall for more regulations when you also fall for hysteria…
—Do that and then don’t be surprised if schools start banning chess because it “promotes war.”
—Those people that always go around saying things like “regulate” and “prohibit” make me sick.

Others wondered about exactly how companies would implement these kind of rules.

—Are they going to make “Call of Duty: Red Cross”?
—This would make gaming much more serious and less fun.
—To be fully realistic, you wouldn’t get less points, but a trial after you complete your mission.
—So…I guess this would end the GTA franchise.

One gamer pointed out that penalizing players for killing citizens is hardly new. Gyrodine, a helicopter shooting game on the NES, came out in the 1980s and took away points for hitting innocent bystanders or buildings that were not targets.

Is this another case of video game violence hysteria? Or does the Red Cross have a point and should video game companies play a role in letting players know of the real-world consequences of war?

Source: Netolabo

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  • 5

    HCKpro

    In that case, we should also punish people who see a movie or read a book where crimes take place and then fail to report these fictitious crimes to the proper authorities.

    The new Lupan movie would be a good place to start.

  • 7

    jkirkham

    It was only a matter of time until the Politically Correct fun police caught on to what was happening in video games.

  • 2

    Draconalis

    This article amuses me in a way... because if you were to read it on an actual gaming site, I assure you, it would read as if the Red Cross wants gaming to stop having guns and hurting puppies.

    But here... what they say almost makes a kind of sense, even if I don't wholly agree with it.

  • -2

    Neo_Rio

    At it's very core, a shooting game would still be fun if it were red blocks versus blue blocks, shooting blocks at each other. It's just that such a game's presentation would be very dull on it's own. So why not make the blocks soldiers instead? It doesn't have to be hyper realistic or anything. Just something to make the game slightly more presentable.

    Next thing you know, the Red Cross will be aiming to mess with the rules of chess. We'll have to wait for the chess-ambulance round to get pieces off the board, and hold a war-crimes court once the King gets checkmated!

  • 6

    Michael Craig

    I barely play those games, but what the hell gives the Red Cross carte blanche to punish people to killing off character in video games!!

    What are going to do? Charge players who make Pac-Man eat the ghosts with manslaughter?

    Stick with saving REAL lives and helping REAL disaster victims, Red Cross!!

  • 4

    akihase

    Is this for real? Shoot... I am wanted man for sure. I have ran over dozens, shot thousands, torture and mangled countless. Call the virtual Hitler.....this is non-sense. What are they thinking? the next thing is... mind reading devices that will punish everyone who thinks of something like...."man.. my boss really pissed me off, I feel like chocking him!!" oh damn... why did I think that... I am going to jail now.

  • 1

    Dennis Bauer

    Red cross should worry about horror movies, they are unsanitary and lots of wasted blood :P

  • 5

    zaldaus

    This is just like EU politicians proposing to force everyone to flush their toilets with a bare minimum amount of water. Seems that when an organization gets too big for its own good, dementia sets in..

  • 7

    timtak

    carte blanche to punish people to killing off character in video games!!

    I am going to jail now.

    The Red Cross is only suggesting that there be virtual, in game penalties for virtual /in game crimes. As noted in the article this is nothing new. There have long been civilians in shooting games and ones score is decreased when one shoots them.

    The Japanese and German versions of the "No Russian" Call of Duty sequence had civilian deaths result in game over.

    But in some games, particularly Grand Theft Auto and its clones, immorality seems to be the point of the game. In some variants (apparently) one can have sex with prostitutes to improve player "health" then kill the prostitute so as not to have to pay (reduce player score).

  • 2

    PersonaNonGrata

    Bad language? I don't care. Sexual content? I don't care. But games that feature the ability to torture and kill people? Full of violence and gore? Come on. No one is saying we have to shut them down or remove them from the store shelves, but a few reality checks attached is not going to hurt that bad. Neither will in game rewards for behavior we favor in the real world and in game punishments for that which we oppose. Especially a lot of teenagers play these games with zero parental guidance. Injecting a bit of guidance into these extremely violent games would be a very good move.

  • 2

    randomenigma

    I think it's fine for games like GTA to avoid implementing the laws of humanity, unless it wants to do so just to exploit them. We don't complain about a game just because it doesn't implement the laws of physics.

  • 1

    Bear27840

    Boy am I happy that my 8 years in South-east Asia doing the dirty work for different governments is not in a game or I would be nailed to a cross then burned at the stake and hung until my body rotted in the sunshine.

    Oh OH, it is in a game I really must worry now about the thought police trying to find me.

    The UN allowed all of this to continue without saying one word to stop it yet now they want to arrest every one that has ever played even Poke'mon for killing a fake, makebelieve creature.

  • 0

    Neksa

    i can name a game series that realistically and justifiably consequences players for their gameplay: Fallout by Bethesda Studios. i know that red cross is probably aiming more toward war games based on the modern and near-future pre-apocalypse time eras, but the point of fallout is that it is a post-apocalyptic role-playing-game, thus requiring as many realistic aspects of a post apocalyptic time era as possible. but if the same aspects from fallout's consequence system applied to first person shooter war games, well, they just don't because the point of fps games is to just beat the story mode then play multiplayer and shoot eachother for fun. it's like realistic laser tag, thus a justification or consequence system should not be necessary--it's just not the point of the game. this is the main reason i prefer fallout and rpg games to fps war games, because i think it takes someone truly bored and uneducated to take joy and pride in shooting someone, respawning, shooting, respawning, shooting, respawning. why do that when you could enjoy a whole story, hundreds of hours of gameplay in a single story, with plot twists and turns as you create your outcome for your virtual world based on the consequences of your own virtual decisions.

  • 2

    Urqinchina

    I need urgent clarification from the Red Cross organisation. I have a ZOmbie chasing me , is it a crime to run it over with my car and then jump out and decapitate its head off . I need clarification on this legality.!

  • -1

    budgie

    In war games there is a precedent. Way back in 2003, Delta Force: Black Hawk Down punished players for gunning down civilians. Any more than a couple of Somali civilians caught in crossfire and the mission would end in failure and you'd have to restart. Both Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear *and *Ghost Recon would do the same if a single hostage or bystander were killed. They didn't go far enough: in GR you could shoot an enemy after he surrendered, and there should have been a penalty for that.

    As a player it was no nuisance. It added realism and challenge to the game. In today's mindless shooters however I guess that's not what players are after. As a gamer I support the Red Cross idea though. Since online shooters challenge players to up their rankings, points could easily be deducted for blatant violations of the rules of war.

    However from what I've seen in games like* Battlefield* and* Call of Duty*, there are no civilians to kill by mistake or otherwise and the enemy always fights to the death. They're programmed for action, not for thought and planning like the old days. At this stage I have yet to see how the Geneva Conventions can be violated in these games.

  • 0

    therougou

    I don't play these games, but if they start making crimes punishable, how far do they go? Do in-game rules have to match real-life rules exactly? Will game companies be dragged to court due to a wrong interpretation of a rule? What if the setting is not anything from real life but completely made up? What laws would the characters have to abide by then?

  • 0

    Lawrence D Crawford

    LOL is this a real article!?!?

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