Are gamers breaking humanitarian laws when playing the likes of Modern Warfare 2 or other war-themed titles? According to the BBC News, a recent study conducted by two human rights groups--Trial and Pro Juventute--claim that certain games violate humanitarian laws by allowing players to destroy homes and buildings, torture captives, and gun down innocent civilians.
Staff members of both organizations played twenty games in the presence of lawyers versed in the interpretation of humanitarian laws. The titles included Army of Two, Call of Duty 5, Far Cry 2, Conflict: Desert Storm, and many others. Why not use popular Hollywood movies as test subjects? Because they don't involve hands-on interaction.
According to the BBC, the testers looked for violations of the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols. They also analyzed how surrendered prisoners were treated, and what happened to civilians who were caught in the conflict. While few games rewarded players for minimizing damage and protecting civilians, other titles allowed the destruction of churches, depicted interrogations, and even recreated torture and degradation.
Ultimately, the study determined that the games are sending an "erroneous" message that conflicts are waged without limits. The study also determined that games provide an impression that anything is acceptable in counter-terrorism operations. Other studies outside the humanitarian groups have indicated otherwise, reporting that the games don't desensitize players, and that they are fully aware the experience is simply fantasy.
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