Indie games developer breaks the Geneva Convention for use of Red Cross logo

Prison Architect Red Cross ambulance

Health bars are a staple in video games, a common restriction to enforce heightened performance from players. Health packs and medics are common in many games but one bizarre legal convention has tripped up an indie games developer.

The developers of simulator game Prison Architect have landed in a spot of trouble for using a red cross to symbolise healthcare and ambulances in the game.

IVSoftware producer Mark Morris and designer Chris Delay made the announcement on YouTube, stating that they had violated the Geneva Convention by making use of the cross which was protected by law but not a trademark.

Here’s the email the duo received around Christmas, via PC Gamer: "My immediate reason for writing is that it has been brought to our attention that in your game ‘Prison Architect’ a five pixel red cross emblem is displayed on vehicles.

"Those responsible may be unaware that use of the red cross emblem is restricted under the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims of 12 August 1949, and that unauthorised use of this sign in the United Kingdom is an offence under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957."

The developer argued that the symbol has been widely used in the video game industry to convey health for decades, especially games championing violence. The legislation is in place to protect the symbol from misuse, mostly in the real world but the organisation "really politely" suggested alternative symbols like a "dagger and snake symbol" or a green cross.

Check out the developer’s comments below.

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John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

Fuelled by tea.

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