Can real life crimes be committed in video games?

by Ben Salter Featured 14 Comments 26 Votes 4643 Views 08/12/2011 Back to Articles

Surely not, but the Red Cross has other ideas. They believe that over 600 million gamers have committed war crimes, which prompts the question: can real life crimes be committed in video games?

The Red Cross is currently investigating if 600 million gamers have violated The Hague and Geneva conventions in virtual worlds. If they find that the conventions have been breached, they may request that developers conform to international war laws in video games.

That sounds ridiculous and blurs the line between fantasy and reality. However, it isn’t a new concept. It’s no different to lobbyists comparing violent virtual games to violence in real life, failing to notice the clear gap between the two.

Targeting war crimes pushes the issue into more controversial grounds because of the morality surrounding the issue. The Red Cross has essentially said it’s ok to be a massacring murderer in Grand Theft Auto, just make sure you don’t commit any war crimes in Modern Warfare 3.

Do we really need a line to be drawn in the sand, or has gaming already established its boundaries as to what can be done in games that is downright illegal in the real world. Murdering people must be accepted. Without the ability to kill, there would be no video games. Hell, you could even be cited for reckless driving and manslaughter in Mario Kart 7 if we were to attribute real world laws to virtual video games.

While the on-going debate about violence in games and our children bashing each other won’t cease any time soon, gruesome murder has been largely accepted in games, as it has in all forms of American media, which makes this a rather strange claim by the Red Cross.

Games have been conservative when it comes to sex; that’s where we expect to see public outrage. You only have to head back a few years to the “hot coffee” scandal in GTA: San Andreas to see what happens when a game dares to be sexual – the fact that it was hidden content aside. The act itself was totally legal, a normal part of life and was actually fairly tame, yet it was heavily criticised in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, chainsawing heads off has been the norm.

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Battlefield 3's commercial combines virtual with reality

That’s probably why this Red Cross claim sounds so absurd. We expect violence to be accepted in video games. If there is a limit and virtual war crimes are considered to be pushing it too far, where will it end? Where will games cease to be virtual fun and become reality with consequences?

Being a serial killer has been fine for decades. If we block war crimes that will probably be the end of that. And forget about having a few beers while you’re playing Forza 4. With the “realism” the driving simulator boasts and police targeting drink driving, you should probably be charged with practising.

At least a case could be made for bridging the gap between the two. People regularly commit drink driving, and may have done so while gaming. The average Call of Duty player probably hasn’t committed any real war crimes. Despite being slightly more realistic, considering drinking driving in games as a real crime is obviously ridiculous. So why has it been brought up for war crimes?

We play games to avoid reality. We know there’s a massive gap between the two, and prefer to keep them separate. Gamers don’t want their worlds to collide. We should be able to commit as many real life crimes in video games as we want without repercussion, so long as they don’t translate into realistic behaviour.

Red Cross, you’re wasting your time.

By Ben Salter

Is there any act in video games that should be considered a real life crime?

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Can real life crimes be committed in video games? Comments

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The answer is in the headline:

Video games are not accurate representations of reality. It would be naive to suggest a violent game CANNOT have an affect on specific individuals, but to consider a virtual act in the same capacity as a real act is craziness.
I just absolutely love the idea of them touting 'war crimes'.

First up, we as a global society, sanction mass murder, murder and many other crimes, because of the title of war.

These acts are justified not by the individuals that commit the crimes, but the flag on their uniform and on their victim's uniform. In a war, it is simply a case of 'well he was going to shoot me, so I killed him', no different to street crimes, just with bigger guns, or, it's tactical, which is infinitely more savage and brutal.

What I'm getting at, war in itself is a crappola of crime - murders - dwindled under the guise of 'war'. Yet, we allow it, we accept it, we even encourage it.

So, war crimes? To me, war rape, mass genocide, etc. Not killing a bystander in a freaking video game, that doesn't even compare to what we send these people overseas to do, day in day out, before letting them back into our society with absolutely no assistance.
The Red Cross need to talk to a lawyer first before pronouncing crap like this [Facepalm]
who knew that getting the zombie genocide achievement in dead rising would actually make you worse than Hitler, thanks red cross for pointing out my clear sociopathic behaviour, I'm off to The Hague to turn myself in and face the music for the millions of innocents I have harmed
charles manson
Are they going to investigate actors in TV shows and movies who commit crimes?
i do know people over in America drive like idiots like driving backwards because they played it on a game.

Man arrested for animal cruelty after RSPCA caught him colouring/breeding sheep and then taking their wool.

gargoyles said: i do know people over in America drive like idiots like driving backwards because they played it on a game.

My god it just goes to show that these idiots have nothing better to do with there lifes, if they realy want to do something go to all the war pigs (pollies) around the world and charge them for war crimes
Also, you bunch of newbs seem to have misread the article. They're not thinking of charging players for IHL violations, only about asking developers and publishers to make games that conform to them. I don't see anything wrong with that. It's like asking developers and publishers to not make games with sexual assault in them since it's a heinous and unsavory thing.
Stealing and 'break-n-enter' are real crimes, and you do that in Bethseda RPGs.
As I killed off dozens of wildlife and 'pets' in video games, I hope that the RSPCA don't crack down on gamers / developers for animal cruelty.

Harry said: NEWS ALERT:
Man arrested for animal cruelty after RSPCA caught him colouring/breeding sheep and then taking their wool.

ohh dang, im in trouble! i have 14 types of sheep crammed into small cells to be bread, shorn and slaughtered...
uhh. i hate when people think that video games make people violent in real life, has it ever been proven? I played gta from a young age and im fine !

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