05/12/2011 10:05 GMT | Updated 05/12/2011 11:32 GMT

Could Video Games Be Forced To Comply With The Geneva Convention On Human Rights?

Violent war-themed video games could be subject to The Geneva and Hague war crimes conventions, according toThe International Committee of the Red Cross.

While many art forms incorporate extreme violence, some have argued, that unlike other mediums, games allow users to participate in acts of violence and should face greater regulation as a result.

During the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, the committee discussed the influence of video games on the public perception of violence.

According to reports, the committee also discussed whether war crimes standards should apply to the virtual victims of war video games.

Taken to its most extreme conclusion, that could theoretically mean applying the same standards for virtual victims of war - pixels and sprites - as human combatants and civilians.

"While the Movement works vigorously to promote international humanitarian law worldwide, there is also an audience of approximately 600 million gamers who may be virtually violating international humanitarian law (IHL)," the Red Cross's description of the event read.

"Exactly how video games influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games. In a side event, participants were asked: 'What should we do, and what is the most effective method?'"

The debate could potentially lead to the committee asking developers to adhere to news rules, or even the Red Cross itself lobbying governments to adopt greater regulation on what can and cannot occur in video games.

Previous reports, including a 2007 study ('The Playing By The Rules Project') by the Geneva-based TRIAL, expressed fears that games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in which users play as soldiers who are able to kill innocent civilians, undermine real-world efforts to promote humanitarian law.

In a report revealing the latest Red Cross discussions, Gawker Media-operated website Kotaku quoted a member of the committee as saying that it was too early for the Red Cross to publicly air its views on the matter.

Alexandra Boivin, head of the Civil Society Relations Unit's Department of International Law and Cooperation for the committee, said:

"Unfortunately, it is too early in the discussion to share our views publicly. We will be posting some information on the ICRC's website in the weeks to come, with a view to stating and explaining our interest in the topic."

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