Can video game violence amount to war crimes?

Or, to put it another way, do virtual characters have human rights?

A study from two Swiss human rights organizations, Trial and Pro Juventute, has found that some video games depict war and battle actions that in real life would violate international human rights laws.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had one of the more lengthy violation sections. According to the group, the game violates several human-rights laws by allowing games to "attack civilian buildings with no limits in order to get rid of all the enemies present in the town who are on roof tops, open areas of the town, squares featuring statues, etc. Under IHL, the fact that combatants/fighters are present in a town does not make the entire town a military objective."

The group also disliked the beating of the game's villain, Al-Asad. It asserted that the "beating of Al-Asad amounts to torture or at least inhuman treatment, which are prohibited in any context, under any circumstances, whether in peace time or during armed conflict situations. Killing him amounts to an extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary execution as it falls outside the context of any legal framework."

The groups says it wants developers to make it clear to gamers that in any circumstance, human-rights violations cannot be allowed, even in a game setting. It also requested that, going forward, developers adhere to international human rights laws when they depict war or battle in a game.

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