Friday, December 02, 2011

Rambling - High Counter Shown Words

So I just read an article on Kotaku about a meeting held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about whether or not to apply the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to video games (full article here).  This strikes me as silly on a superficial level, and dangerous on a much more fundamental level.
...the [ICRC] says they may ask developers to adhere to the rules themselves or "encourage" governments to adopt laws to regulate the video game industry.
The silly aspect is fairly obvious, in that an international organization founded in the 1800s to regulate the way in which nations conduct war is now looking at the content of video games.  Silly, only insomuch that merely saying it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, seriously...
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 IHL...
Virtually violating IHL?  Really?  Just saying that is ridiculous.  Gamers have virtually won countless sports games, virtually saved countless lives, and virtually repelled innumerable extra-terrestrial invaders bent on wiping out our entire species.  So where are the international organizations looking to award gamers with mountains of awards for athletic accomplishment, Nobel Peace Prizes, and undying adulation for preventing our destruction at the hands of the Combine?

Oh....oh, there aren't any?  No one is going to be given an award by the President for Most Crops Farmed in their facebook account?  Well, shit.  They why is this being applied?  That's just silly.

Yes, before you say it, I understand that there is very little real correlation between war, farming, and sports.  I'm not trying to compare the two.  What I am saying is that video games are not the real world, and no real world law should be applied to the way in which they function.

Sure, ban or restrict all the content you want.  Ban kiddie porn, restrict the sale of violent and sexual games to minors, ban and restrict all the things that make perfectly logical sense to keep out of the media in general.  All media; books, television, movies, comics, and games alike.  Which is a small part of my point.  Where is the cry from the ICRC to apply IHL to movies?  If there is, or ever was, such an event then I never heard of it.  If you know of one, please do inform me.

The thing is, even if there was one, it wouldn't change very much of what bothers me so much about this.  As stated at the beginning of the article, and reiterated near the end...
One possible course of action could be to encourage game designers/producers to incorporate IHL in the development and design of video games, while another could be to encourage governments to adopt laws and regulations to regulate this ever-growing industry.
That, to me, sounds like  a very direct threat.  In the same article Brian Crecente (the author) goes on to describe how effective the ICRC has been at "encouraging" government action behind the scenes.  Which is all fine and dandy; they're the ones who are charged with keeping mortars out of schools, mines out of public streets, and hot pokers out of the asses of POWs.  I'm all for that, believe me.

Yet what that quote above amounts to, in my opinion, is the ICRC saying "the video game industry better do this, or we'll get the government to fucking make you do it."  In what way is that not a bad thing?

I'm already angry, lately, about S. 1867, and the last thing I want to hear about is the possibility of government dictating the content of my video games.  I mean, really?  Should there be a government committee past which every developer in the country should run their ideas?  How about an actual government employee on the staff of every authorized game developer (horrifying in itself) whose job it is to say yes or no about every aspect of the game?  Either idea is equally troublesome, and I personally wouldn't tolerate either one.

Now there is something to be said, I must point out, about the idea of applying IHL to the content of some games.  Personally, I find the idea fascinating and I would really love to see someone explore it some time.  Imagine a game like CoD where, instead of the usual uber-pretty yawn-fest "shoot ever'wun, wooooo!!!!" it usuall turns out to be, we had to pay attention to what we were doing.  It might suck ass.  It might elevate the game to a whole new level.  I'd love to see it explored.  Yet in no way should the government step in, or an international organization, or even anyone's Uncle Fester for that matter, and dictate to any game developer what will be included in the game.

Hell, even applying this idea would be ludicrous.  As stated in the article, in 2007 a group called TRIAL studied the 'virtual violation' (that term makes me cringe now) of IHL.  They studied games like CoD, BH, and R6, and to me that makes perfect sense; those are the types games I would expect them to look at when studying the possible violation of IHL in video games.  I don't know whether or not they looked at other games or genres, but I highly doubt they looked at very much.

Did they look at games like Mass Effect?  Do I violate some form of the IHL every time I shoot a Geth in the face?  What about Fable?  Can I be charged with war crimes if I slaughter a farmer's entire flock of chickens (do chickens flock?  I'm not sure.)?  How far would something like this go?

The entire idea is ridiculous, insulting, and dangerous.

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Rambling - Comet Circle Rips Lamp