This video game finds itself in the heart of the war in Ukraine

Launched almost ten years ago, Arma 3 is at the heart of a news that it would have done well. Images from the video game are wrongly used as sequences of real conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine. Faced with the situation, the developers decided to react.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia began in February and this conflict is also marked by a proliferation of misleading content. On the web, fake news (infox or false information) and false images abound; so much so that you have to be extra vigilant not to fall into the trap. False content continues to circulate and a video game finds itself in spite of itself in this conflict. Launched in 2013, Weapon 3 has managed to maintain a player base and the many “mods” help keep the title alive. On the other hand, Bohemia Interactive did not expect that images of the game to fuel disinformation campaigns.

Arma 3 caught up with reality

From the start of the conflict, Bloomberg reported the existence of fake videos presented as images of war. Relayed on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, it was actually screenshots of the video game Arma 3. At the end of the year, the developers of the game have decided to denounce the use of footage from the game to fuel misinformation campaigns. In a press release, Bohemia Interactive indicates that “These user-made videos have the potential to go viral and are widely shared on social media, sometimes even by mainstream media or official government institutions”. The Czech studio publishes a video in passing to present examples of misleading videos:

“While it is gratifying that Arma 3 can simulate modern armed conflicts in such a realistic way, we are certainly not happy that it can be mistaken for real combat images and used for military propaganda purposes in the world. context of an armed conflict. This has happened in the past (Arma 3 videos would have depicted conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, and even between India and Pakistan), but today this content has taken off. magnitude in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. We have tried to fight against this type of content by reporting these videos to platform providers (FB, YT, TW, IG, etc.), but it is not very effective. For every video taken down, ten more are uploaded every day. We have found that the best way to solve this problem is to actively cooperate with major news outlets and fact-checking agencies (like AFP, Reuters and others), which have a better reach and ability to effectively tackle the spread misleading information,” says Pavel Křižka, Public Relations Manager at Bohemia Interactive.

How do you tell in-game videos from real-world footage? The (good) tips from the developers

In addition to reacting, the team behindWeapon 3 explains how to spot these fake war images. Here is 8 elements which can help not to fall into the trap:

Even older smartphones are capable of delivering videos in HD quality. Fake videos are usually of much lower quality, and are intentionally pixelated and blurry to disguise the fact that they are taken from a video game.

  • Camera shake

To add dramatic effect, these videos are often not captured in-game. Writers film a computer screen with the game in progress in low quality and with exaggerated camera shake.

  • Often takes place in the dark/at night

The sequences are often dark in order to hide the insufficient level of detail of the scenes of video games.

  • Most of the time without sound

Game sound effects often stand out from the real thing

  • Does not show moving people

While the game can simulate the movement of military vehicles relatively realistically, it is still very difficult for even the most modern games to capture the natural movement of human beings.

Game interfaces, such as weapon selection, ammo counters, vehicle status, in-game messages, etc. are sometimes visible. They usually appear on the edges or in the corners of the video.

  • Unrealistic particle effects

Even the most modern games struggle to reproduce explosions, smoke, fire and dust, and how they are affected by environmental conditions, in a natural way. This is particularly obvious with the oddly separated clouds.

  • Non-authentic vehicles, uniforms and equipment

People with advanced knowledge of military equipment may recognize the use of military means that are unrealistic for a given conflict. For example, in a widely circulated misleading video, an American C-RAM air defense system shoots down an American A-10 ground attack aircraft. Units can also display badges, camouflages, etc. which are not genuine.

Arma 3, the war for fakes

As a reminder, Weapon 3 takes place in the heart of a conflict fictional and futuristic, in the year 2035. To date, the developers identify the existence of over 20,000 mods. They can be downloaded from the Steam Workshop for Weapon 3. The desire to offer a significant degree of freedom is now proving to be a “disadvantage” for Bohamia Interactive. “Videos extracted from Arma 3, especially when the game is modded, are likely to be used for misinformation”specifies the studio.

Tired of seeing this content multiply, the developers appealing to the responsibility of content creators. “Finally, we want to ask Arma 3 players and content creators to use their game footage responsibly. When sharing this type of content, it’s best to refrain from using “clickbait” video titles and always make it clear that the video is from a video game and does not depict actual events. Many Arma players have reported erroneously identified footage to us, which helps viewers understand what they are seeing. Thanks for your help ! »indicates the studio which began its history with Arma: Cold War Assaultreleased in 2001.

This video game finds itself in the heart of the war in Ukraine