For over seven decades, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has upheld the Geneva Conventions, protecting humanitarian rights in conflict zones worldwide. However, awareness and comprehension of the Rules of War amongst younger audiences is waning, posing a significant risk. This is especially concerning as 50% of newly enlisted soldiers are regular video game players. As a result, ICRC sought to educate these audiences about the humanitarian rights and rules, targeting future soldiers and reinforcing the importance of the Geneva Conventions. They chose to use the global gaming platform Twitch, where over 70% of the 31 million daily active users are between 18–34 years. The ultimate objective was to boost awareness and understanding of the Rules of War amongst younger demographics, utilizing gaming entertainment to reach out to potential soldiers. Through this initiative, ICRC aimed to make a real difference on battlefields by ensuring future soldiers understand the importance of observing these rules in real-world conflict scenarios.
The team developed 'Play by the Rules,' a campaign inspiring gamers to observe the real Rules of War in their gameplay on popular first-person-shooter (FPS) games. The objective was to leverage the influence and engagement of gaming to foster awareness and understanding of the Geneva Conventions among younger audiences, who might become soldiers in the future.
The team enlisted renowned gamers from leading FPS games, including PUBG, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Escape from Tarkov, and Rainbow 6: Siege. These gamers have collectively attracted millions of followers on Twitch, constituting a vast and engaged community. Their involvement not only expanded the campaign's reach but also brought authenticity and enthusiasm to the cause.
The keystone of the strategy was a Twitch livestream. Partner gamers played their preferred FPS games in accordance with the Rules of War. An ICRC expert hosted the livestream, providing a seamless blend of gaming insights and International Humanitarian Law to guide the gameplay and discussion.
A unique feature introduced during the livestream was a custom Fortnite mode, where the Rules of War were embedded directly into the gameplay. This innovative feature not only heightened the gaming experience but also served as an engaging, interactive method to teach the Rules of War.
The team augmented the campaign's reach by employing social media through the ICRC's channels and the partnered gamers. A dedicated microsite was also established to offer detailed information about the Rules of War, and suggested how gamers could adapt their gameplay to follow these guidelines.
Through this integrated strategy combining gaming, livestreaming, and education, the team executed a campaign that resonated profoundly with the target audience. By effectively using their language and platforms, the team successfully raised awareness about the importance of observing the Rules of War.
The 'Play by the Rules' campaign achieved notable success, significantly surpassing ICRC's existing Twitch following. The Twitch livestream alone attracted 143,618 unique viewers, stimulating active engagement with the presented content. Viewers interacted via chat messages, progressively engaging more with ICRC, and demonstrating an understanding of the Rules of War.
This high level of interaction and positive perception of the initiative was also reflected in the comments, with viewers praising the ICRC's efforts in making the Rules of War understandable for everyone. Additionally, in the six days following the livestream, the campaign's microsite recorded over 8,400 visits, indicating a high level of audience engagement and advocacy for the cause.
Further reinforcing the campaign's impact, our influencers' videos achieved a 99% view rate, generating 47,000 video views over three days. Impressions saw a day-over-day increase, including a fourfold rise on the event day. Through a robust paid media campaign, the 'Play by the Rules' initiative amassed over three million impressions, underscoring the successful execution of the campaign's objective: spreading awareness and educating younger audiences about the Rules of War.