Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

American Red Cross: Targeting the Laws of War with Video Games

51The American Red Cross is holding a symposium today in Washington DC on “Targeting the Laws of War with Video Games.” You can follow it live (12h00-13h45) online.

The $93 billion video game industry reaches massive audiences across every political and geographic boundary. Improvements in technology allow dozens of gamers to play hyper-realistic first-person shooters and other wartime simulations online. Young gamers routinely confront virtual situations in their living rooms previously only experienced by soldiers on the frontlines.

Yet, as the video game industry has grown, so too has its social consciousness. The Red Cross has been at the global forefront in the promotion of games for social good. Now, as new technologies emerge and gamers are confronted with new challenges, how can humanitarians partner with the gaming industry to promote awareness of the rules that govern the conduct of hostilities in armed conflicts?

Join the American Red Cross and its partners for an exploration of everyday gameplay, and a conversation about how video games can educate players about the laws of war. Experience hands-on demonstrations and hear from leading industry experts. Panelists will address the integration of humanitarian rules into games simulating historical and contemporary armed conflicts, how socially conscious games can inspire change in attitude and behaviors, as well as censorship issues and freedom of speech protections for video games.

  • Lunch and event are free with registration but due to limited seating an  RSVP is necessary. 
  • Join the conversation on Twitter by using #roleplayingIHL 
  • Can’t attend in person?  Join the event online.

The latest discussions reflect a widespread recognition that when the International Committee of the Red Cross first raised this issue a few years ago it did so in a way that antagonized many gamers, confused the media, and didn’t effectively communicate the ICRC’s hopes and concerns about videogames and IHL.

You’ll find previous discussion of these issues at PAXsims here and here. See also the ICRC webpage on video games and law of war.

UPDATE: If you missed the presentations, you can still watch it here:

In addition, click the image below for a selection of tweets made during the workshop.


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