Does playing shooters make you a war criminal?

Well, obviously not because it doesn’t involve killing actual real people. However the International Red Cross has recently been discussing video games, and you could be excused for thinking that the they wanted to take several zillion CoD players to tribunal from reading the news headlines.

Fortunately for common sense, delegates at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent actually published a Q+A about their debate about video games. I think it makes interesting reading and explains why they felt it was part of their remit.

Truth is, the jury is still out on the effect videogaming has on young people. We know that video games in the past have been used as military recruiting techniques and to ‘harden’ new recruits to protect them from the stresses of combat. Games have not historically been focussed on showing the downsides to war, because that’s not as fun as shooting nazis.

But given that moral choices in gaming have become quite fashionable in the RPG arena, would it really be so bad if those choices were more widely flagged up in shooters too? Sure, choose to flout the Geneva Conventions if you want (do zombies even have human rights?), but at least the game dialogue should reflect that choice. Maybe even let players have more of a choice. I am sure I’ll enjoy the heck out of playing a darkside sith warrior, and I’m pretty sure the empire don’t bother with any of that Geneva Convention nonsense, but at least I’ll know they’re darkside choices …