Call of Duty: The Geneva Conventions


A father of a young teenager desperate for some Call of Duty action agreed to let him play the game if, and only if, he learned about and agreed to play according to the international laws laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

Hugh Spencer’s 13-year-old son plays a lot of videogames, as teenage boys tend to do these days, but his father Hugh felt some trepidation when the teen said he wanted to play Call of Duty online with his friends. “Evan’s wanting to play C of D was something of a challenge for us,” he wrote on Boing Boing. “It’s rated T and he’s only just a teenager and point and shoot first person games worry me some.”

Fortunately for Evan, his father apparently thinks he’s a pretty good kid, describing him as “relentlessly reasonable” which meant that he “had to be reasonable too.” He examined the game and determined that while there was “lots of shooting and blowing things up,” there was also some historical merit to the game. So they made a deal.

“I asked Evan to google the Geneva Convention. Then he had to read it and then we had to discuss it. This we did,” Spencer wrote. “So the deal is that Evan has to fight according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. If his team-mates violate the Convention then play stops and Call of Duty goes away for a while.”

The article didn’t specify which title in the series Evan is playing although World At War is the most likely culprit, and in any event I’m not sure the mechanics of any Call of Duty game have much to do with the Geneva Conventions, which primarily deal with prisoners of war and non-combatants rather than smack-talk and asshatting. Still, it’s a great way to turn the dubious educational value of Call of Duty into genuinely worthwhile knowledge and discussion. No word yet on whether Evan has been grounded for failing to provide medical care to wounded prisoners or for imposing collective punishments on civilian populations of occupied territories.

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