Can you beat Call of Duty without committing a war crime?

Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, and other FPS games feature in a challenge by the Red Cross, testing players to avoid committing any war crimes.

Can you play Call of Duty without committing a war crime?: A woman with dark hair, Valeria from FPS game Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, stares into the camera

From Call of Duty Warzone 2 to Rainbow Six Siege and Fortnite, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is challenging FPS game players to try to avoid committing any war crimes – or rather, performing any in-game acts that would be considered war crimes in reality. Issuing a bullet-point list of the rules of war, the ICRC says that how you play shooters “makes a difference on the battlefield IRL.” So what do you think? Could you play CoD, Tarkov, or PUBG without committing a war crime?

“Every day, people play games set in conflict zones right from their couch,” the ICRC says. “But right now, armed conflicts are more prevalent than ever. And to the people suffering from their effects, this conflict is not a game. It destroys lives and leaves communities devastated. Therefore, we’re challenging you to play FPS by the real rules of war, to show everyone that even wars have rules – rules which protect humanity on battlefields IRL.”

So, what do you need to do? The ICRC lays down four basic tenets for ethical FPS behaviour.

Firstly, no thirsting. Essentially, this means that if an enemy is on the ground, wounded, and cannot respond, you cannot continue to shoot at them. Immediately, that makes a lot of battle royale games very difficult, as you usually need to shoot opponents until they are in an injured state, then ‘finish’ them once they’re on the ground.

Secondly, you can’t attack non-violent NPCs. Any bot that does not fire on you unprovoked is considered a civilian, and therefore cannot be harmed. You also, as a third rule, cannot target any civilian buildings. Houses, schools, and hospitals are all considered safe zones that you must either avoid damaging or not enter whatsoever.

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If combat in these areas is unavoidable, you must take all precautions to minimise damage. That might be tricky when it comes to Battlefield, and its highly expressive destruction system.

Finally, your medical supplies must be used on everyone – if you have an unused med-kit and meet somebody in need of aid, you must provide it, whether they are a friendly or an enemy.

Various streamers have participated in the challenge already, showcasing games like Call of Duty Warzone, Escape from Tarkov, Rainbow Six Siege, and Fortnite live on Twitch, while trying to play within the rules of war.

The ICRC has also partnered officially with Arma 3 and Fortnite, and asks players who attempt the challenge to write a message of support, encouraging other developers to participate. You can sign the petition here, and also find out more about the rules of war and who they are designed to protect.

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