Why The Red Cross Is Forbidden In Video Games

There's actually a reason why you never see the Red Cross logo appear in modern games. It's highly illegal for devs to include it, and here's why.

If you just want to be really triggered, read about the most offensive game ever made. It's truly diabolical, and yet shockingly, it's still available. Because despite all the nasty stuff you'll find in that game, you won't find the Red Cross logo, and so there's nothing in it that can get it banned. Yep, that's right, you can put some nasty s*** in games, but if you include the Red Cross logo, then that's too far. It's illegal to include it, in fact. But why? What strange ruling has prevented the Red Cross logo ever appearing in video games?

Why Is The Red Cross Forbidden In Video Games?

The Red Cross logo isn't a universal symbol that anyone can implement into their products for free, it's actually a protected logo, and its use without permission is forbidden by the Geneva Convention. The original reasoning for this was that the symbol should be almost sacred, so that even in times of war and strife, people would know to trust the symbol. If private corporations could use the logo, or if it became a generic symbol of health, then its significance would be diminished, which makes perfect sense, even if it does seem a little too sensitive.

While we're on the topic of things you shouldn't see in gaming, let's add these prices to the list...

What Is The Punishment For Using The Red Cross In A Video Game?

There's only been one recent case of developers getting in trouble for including a Red Cross logo in their game, Prison Architect, and in that case, they were given a warning before further action was taken. They were emailed by the International Committee of the Red Cross who stated the following:

If the Red Cross emblem or similar signs are used for other purposes, no matter how beneficial or inconsequential they may seem, the special significance of the emblem will be diminished.

The Red Cross emblem or similar designs are not general signs of ambulances, health care, first aid, the nursing or medical profession, or similar matters. Moreover, they are not signs to be used for commercial purposes, such as for advertising campaigns or on products.

The devs removed the logo, and everyone moved on. But it was still somewhat unfair that these devs were targeted, given how many other games still use a red cross on a white background to represent health packs and such. They were probably targeted because Prison Architect is so problematic in itself, and not something a charity would want to be associated with. You win some, you lose some.

So, there you have it ladies and gents, the red cross isn't a universal symbol, it refers specifically to the Red Cross charity. And thanks to the Geneva Convention, game devs can't just use the Red Cross whenever they need a symbol to reference medical help in a game. Most games, like Halo, have quietly replaced the cross with a red H on a white background.