Red Cross Launches Weird Initiative to Urge Gamers to Stop Committing War Crimes in Games Set in Conflict Zones

The Red Cross has launched an initiative to urge gamers to stop committing war crimes in first-person shooter games.

The organization’s “Play by the Rules” campaign was launched on its Twitch channel last week.

“Every day, people play games set in conflict zones right from their couch. But right now, armed conflicts are more prevalent than ever,” the Red Cross website for the initiative states. “And to the people suffering from their effects, this conflict is not a game. It destroys lives and leaves communities devastated. Therefore, we’re challenging you to play FPS by the real Rules of War, to show everyone that even wars have rules—rules which protect humanity on battlefields IRL.”

To get attention on the effort, the Red Cross partnered with gaming influencers to stream themselves playing games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, Rainbow 6 Siege, PUBG Battlegrounds, and Escape from Tarkov — while playing “honorably.”

The rules include “no thirsting,” meaning that when an enemy is down and can’t respond, you can’t keep shooting at them; no shooting NPCs; no targeting civilian buildings, and use medical kits on everyone — including the people you are trying to beat in the game.

“If you have an unused med kit that works on others, you must give it to those who need it—be they friendly or enemy,” the Red Cross says. “The Rules of War mandate that the sick and wounded—no matter which side they’re on—have the right to be cared for.”

RT reports that “while digital violence is likely far from the minds of victims of its real-world equivalent, this is the second time the Red Cross has found time to put together such a campaign in the past decade. The NGO hosted an event in an Arma III module called Law of War in 2017 that saw gamers discard their weapons and play as humanitarian workers, assuming a set of responsibilities that included responding to people in crisis, defusing landmines, and submitting to journalists’ interviews. The release raised $176,667 for the ICRC.”

“The NGO began investigating whether the Geneva and Hague conventions could be applied to video game depictions of war in 2011, calling on governments to impose regulations forcing developers to limit violations like torture, extrajudicial executions, attacks on civilians, and other atrocities if they could not be convinced to do so voluntarily,” the report continued. “Facing backlash for spending its time fretting over virtual genocides rather than preventing real ones, the ICRC argued it had plenty of staff to do both and sought to reassure gamers they would not be hauled in front of any war crimes tribunals.”

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