9. Call of Duty 2 – Executing the wounded in contravention of the Geneva Conventions.
The Geneva Conventions famously forbid the killing or torture of all persons who are ‘hors de combat’ – literally meaning ‘out of the fight’. In Call of Duty 2, however, the player continually shoots enemies who have fallen on the ground and are rolling around screaming their lungs out.
But this situation is more complicated than it appears. Protocol I to the Conventions defines ‘hors de combat’ as including an enemy combat who is “incapacitated by wounds or sickness”, but also specifically requires parties to “abstain from any hostile act”. The whole reason the player ends up shooting at fallen enemies is because, after ten seconds or so of injured writhing, they invariably pull out a pistol and try to shoot you. In such cases, the player is acting in justified self-defence.
Nevertheless, these mechanics lead most players to adopt a habitual and pre-emptive policy of shooting the wounded – which would be vulnerable to prosecution under the Geneva Conventions. CoD 2 sets up its fake reality so that all the player’s brutal acts are justified, but her response to this situation makes her an effective war criminal.