Jump to content

No Red Cross for Health Packs in Video Games

Recommended Posts

  • Retromags Curator

Not sure how I feel about this, I mean I am so accustomed to seeing health depicted this way in video games.





The developers of Prison Architect found themselves in a pinch of legal trouble recently when they were contacted by the British Red Cross over the game’s use of a red cross on a white background to denote health. While that may seem harmless, turns out it’s not allowed.


As PC Gamer report, the famous symbol isn’t actually in the public domain; it’s governed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who seek to protect it from any acts of what they believe is misuse.

“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,” an email sent to the game’s developers reads. “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.”


Which, fine, whatever. Introversion’s Mark Morris and Chris Delay are understandably upset, though, that the ICRC’s enforcement of this rule is so inconsistent; you can point to countless games, TV shows and movies that use the red cross symbol and get away with it, while their indie game hasn’t just been targeted, but they’ve been told that their use of it technically constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and by extension British law as well.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Retromags Curator

Far from the first time this has happened. :)





In August 2002 Anchor Bay Entertainment of Troy, MI released the three-DVD set of horror cult film phenomenon Sleepaway Camp and its sequels. Unbeknownst to Anchor Bay, the set’s original “red cross” packaging technically violated the Geneva Convention. 

For 20,000 pieces, the design of the outer case originally sported a large red cross as the main graphic element. “Our package was intended to give the impression of being a first aid kit,” said Tom Bambard, senior brand manager of horror and sci-fi at Anchor Bay. “Then of course it had a big bloody handprint on it—like somebody at camp grabbed the first aid kit to save himself.” 

The design of the package was done in-house at Anchor Bay. “We did a review of whether there were any trademarks associated with [the red cross logo] and we thought we had done a reasonable amount of due diligence in identifying any restrictions. We thought the red cross was a public domain image. That turned out not to be true,” said Bambard.


These still sell for quite a bit when they turn up on eBay. My wife and I aren't selling ours though. :)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is pretty stupid.  Video games, shmideo games, I imagine a situation where someone needing emergency medical attention dies because the first aid kit that could have saved their life went unnoticed in its plain unmarked box since only Official Red Cross™ merchandise can bear the symbol that everyone instantly recognizes and associates with first aid.


Oh and...Sleepaway Camp!  I've only seen the first one...but that last scene, though... :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/24/2017 at 7:15 AM, Raijin Z said:

Look up how the Red Cross screwed over US soldiers by billing them for blankets and other stuff in WWII.

From my direct experience, Red Cross is a sham of a benevolent organization. I contacted The Red Cross with hopes of getting some voluntary work experience, and was invited to come to their local branch for orientation / training. I showed up, was introduced to my 'orientation leader,' and wasted a lot of time standing around because the people who were charged with managing me largely ignored me and didn't bother to assign someone capable of managing me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 2/4/2017 at 11:22 PM, DPsx7 said:

You can't trademark a '+' so just change the color. I'm pretty sure gamers will know what it does if it's green on white or whatever.

Yeah, how about instead having a cross that is pure red, game developers just change it to a lighter (or darker) shade of red to evade copyright disputes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Recent Achievements

    • Playzine earned a badge
      Member for 1 Day
    • Ilikepie075 earned a badge
    • Ilikepie075 earned a badge
      Member for 7 Days
    • Matiaa earned a badge
      Member for 1 Day
    • Natel earned a badge
      Member for 1 Month
  • Create New...
Affiliate Disclaimer: Retromags may earn a commission on purchases made through our affiliate links on Retromags.com and social media channels. As an Amazon & Ebay Associate, Retromags earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your continued support!