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Videogames Guilty Of Human Rights Violations

Videogames Guilty Of Human Rights Violations


A study conducted by Swiss groups Pro Juventute, a children’s rights group and Track Impunity Always (TRIAL), an international criminal justice organisation has looked into whether in-game actions could infringe upon International Humanitarian Law if committed in the real world. Unsurprisingly the answer is yes. The study involved a number of researchers watching seasoned gamers play a number of games including Battlefield: Bad Company and Far Cry 2, making note of any actions which could be considered offenses and then detailing how they broke the law.

“In computer and videogames, violence is often shown and the players become ‘virtually violent’,” the report begins. “While much research has been done to the effect of such games on the players and their environment, little research exists on whether, if thet were committed in real life, violent acts in games would lead to violations of rules of international law, in particular International Humanitarian Law (IHL), basic norms of International Human Rights Law (IHRL) or International Criminal Law (ICL).”

The report, entitled Play By The Rules, goes on to look at a number of games and assess their human rights performance. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the offences committed by the games studied according to these groups.

  • 24: The Game – Inhuman or degrading treatment, possibly torture
  • Army Of Two – Violations of the agreed international terms under which mercenaries operate. As combatants they could be tried for merely fighting in a conflict.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company – Destruction of civilian property, indiscriminate attacks on civilian property, no provision for the minimisation of civilian casualties and property damage. Also guilty of pillaging, strictly prohibited by IHL.
  • Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway – Summary executions without due process of law, seeming execution of civilians in violation of IHL.
  • Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – AC-130 attack cannot comply with IHL due to night vision making it hard to distinguish civilian and military targets. It would therefore be considered a disproportionate attack under IHL (COD 4 is however praised for prohibiting an attack on the church). The scene in which Price questions Al-Asad also amounts to torture or at least inhuman treatment.
  • Call Of Duty: World At War – Use of flamethrowers at close range is a violation of laws prohibiting superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering established in 1907. Killing injured, unarmed soldiers is also a war crime.
  • Far Cry 2 – Damage and destruction of civilian property including an attack on a church would be against the law. Shooting an enemy who is surrendering is also a crime.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 – Killing enemies who have been knocked out or immobilised is an offense.
  • Rainbow Six Vegas – Praised  by the report for punishing players for killing civilians, in particular allowing the death of hostages.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent – The killing of prison guards in the game would be a violation of human rights law, but you do have the option not to kill them. Killing the captured pilot Cole Yeager, would also be a violation of the law.

So there you have it. Games committing all sorts of human rights violations. You can have a look at the report yourself and its conclusions HERE.

Via Kotaku

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  • Rbl007

    i’m surpised to see they havn’t done a GTA game, although most actions in the game are against the law.

    from the collection of games they did do are for the most part “war games”, in which to live or die you must choose between you and your enemy, but the reson for playing games is give the player an alternative reality, in mush the same way as a book or a movie, and usually these media outlets are restricted to those who know better in life.
    if for some reson that someone underage gets a hold of anyone said games it is upto that persons parents to make that call if their ready.

    although what i have said is pro-game restictions to those who know better, i do think that in todays class rooms that law should be taught, whether it covers the basics or it goes right into it. why is because i came out of school not even knowing of the employment laws until i went into higher study.

    most of the laws that are stated to be broken in these games i very much doubt the average joe would know about, like the “■Call Of Duty: World At War – Use of flamethrowers at close range is a violation of laws prohibiting superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering established in 1907”

  • Dave Moore

    this is ridiculous,its not real,its not meant to be real,its a game.i’m genuinely disgusted.

  • Jeff

    You know; the reason I play video games is to do stuff I can’t do or am not allowed to do in real life. Fly planes, race cars, play professional sports and kill terrorists/demons/aliens.

    Next, they’ll say you have to go shake hands with the other team to show your sportsmanship after a crushing defeat in Madden 2012. It’s a game and I want to escape reality for a little while. Don’t cram it back down my throat.

    The only people who believe games are bad are those that want to start a bunch of crap and their lawyers.

    There are several people who had better be glad I can bust a cap in video games so I don’t do it elsewhere. This is how I relieve stress. Head shots!

    I also want to say that I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance.

  • Asaf

    What about slave labour?
    There are thousands of slaves working the mines of World of Warcraft!!!
    Who’s looking after their rights?!

    Where’s the UN??

  • PNK


    Modern Warfare 2.

    Option of killing civilians at the airport?