Game Developers Bullied by the Red Cross

2009-11-28 14.30.58
Las Vegas: Sin City Scenery, Part 1


I’m pretty late to the party since this is about… oh 3 years old, but I hadn’t noticed it until recently in games. The health kits and power-ups look strange, it takes awhile for me to recognize them in each game. This is because the universal gaming icon for healing has changed. Even in big games such as Neverwinter Nights.

This is because the Red Cross of Canada complained that they didn’t want the red cross to be used in games, because games have violence.

I’ll let you roll that around in your head for a few moments to let the absurdity of it really sink in.

I don’t see the any of the Red Crosses complaining to Unicum, because it makes you drunk (Unicum is a Hungarian liquor very similar to Jagermeister, has been around since 1883, and has had variations of a red cross logo on it since its inception).  If you’re a game developer, claim that you’re using Unicum’s logo; better yet, get an endorsement from them 😉

Please stop complaining that it is breaking the law and saying that a Red Cross is a trademark logo of your organization. It’s a Red Plus Sign, like so: +. You can’t trademark it, especially not internationally.

Not ironically, it’s always the satellite Red Crosses (like Red Cross of America/Canada) acting like they are protecting the world and speaking for the actual International Red Cross organization in Switzerland, who has, so far as I can tell, never complained about using their logo in video games (and are probably too busy helping in real situations to care).

To make matters funnier, Johnson & Johnson of America had the guts to sue the Red Cross for using J&J’s logo (a Red Cross) without their permission. :)

The red cross/crecent/lozenge/lion/gummy-bear is a Geneva convention recognized universal symbol for medical attention by the military world-wide; and it’s just stupid to scream trademark infringement about it. Especially in a military or historically accurate game. In addition, I’m pretty sure the red cross symbol was used in medical applications before the Red Cross organization even existed.


Oh yeah, in the Arvale games, this is what we used for the healing potion:

Some relevant links:

Unicum is tastier than Jagermeister

Red Cross doesn’t like games

More recent, and pretty close to a Red Gummy Bear

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ryan Anspach Aug 16, 2009

    Interesting. At my job doing news graphics, we usually use a red or white cross to represent hospitals or medical-related imagery. I think road signs for hospitals use a white cross, at least in America. Are these violations too?

  • Jason Surguine Aug 16, 2009

    Hmm… the Red Cross related to Hospitals seems fine of course (and of course!).

    As for Medical related imagery in general, I’ve actually read that many medicine/surgery stuff switched to a Green Cross years ago for similar issues with the Red Cross and/or Johnson & Johnson.

    But again, targeting a news program or TV station is a bit harder to do (and much more complicated) than simply blaming games. :)

  • Rio Mar 21, 2010

    You could reverse the design and just say it’s modeled after the Swiss flag. I think most gamers would be pretty intuitive about realizing the symbol means “healing”.

  • Jason Surguine Mar 21, 2010

    Hah, great idea and a good point, Rio! :)