Games criticised for portrayal of war crimes

Written by Joe Martin

November 24, 2009 // 11:14 a.m.

Tags: #army-of-two #bbc #cod #games-criticised-for-portrayal-of-war-crimes #modern-warfare-2 #mw2 #war-crimes

Human rights groups in Switzerland have criticised the games industry for frequently flaunting international law and depicting inhuman war crimes without properly exploring the consequences of such actions today.

The research was done by Swiss organisation TRIAL and youth rights advocate Pro Juventute Switzerland and involved specialists in humanitarian law taking a look at more than twenty shooters, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Army of Two, 24: The Game and Far Cry 2 as part of a new study.

The lawyers focused their complaints on the fact that games rarely explore the consequences of depicted atrocities. Apparently Army of Two's Salem and Rios would "be tried for their mere participation in hostilities, as mercenaries are counted as civilians". Battlefield: Bad Company was slammed for depicting wanton destruction of civilian property.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare took a tongue-lashing for depicting torture and execution of political prisoners, but was praised for causing players to fail a mission if they fire upon the church in the AC130 bombing mission.

The study goes on to wonder whether games can change a players perception of "what combat situations are like and what the role of the military and of individual soldiers or law enforcement officials in such situations, is". It's also claimed that games have a "dangerous tendency to step back from what has been achieved in the field of human rights in the last 60 years".

[We] call upon game producers to consequently and creatively incorporate rules of international humanitarian law and human rights into their games,” says the study (via BBC).

You can imagine our thoughts, which line up nicely with quotes from RPS' John Walker in the same article that games are treated in an odd way and that no such petitions would ever seriously be levelled at other forms of mass media. Let us know your own thoughts in the forums.

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