Bohemia Interactive has spoken out on the Arma 3 fake news problem, wherein videos of the realistic army sim are being mistaken for real-life conflict footage in the Russia-Ukraine war. The dev says that it's "not pleased" such a thing is occurring, and that trying to flag this content with social media platforms has been "very ineffective".
Arma 3 is a phenomenally popular game, in large part because of its heavy emphasis on realism and its openness to things like user mods and player-created content. This, however, is a double-edged sword, as gameplay footage from Arma 3 is now being spread on social media and elsewhere, fooling people into thinking it's real-life footage of the war in Ukraine.
On its official blog, Bohemia Interactive says that the "unique freedom" afforded by the Arma 3 platform also "comes with a downside", which is evidenced by this problem. Bohemia says that while it's "flattering" Arma 3 is realistic enough to be mistaken for real life, it's a shame the footage can be, and has been, mistaken for real life.
Despite the relative realism of Arma 3, there are, according to Bohemia, ways you can easily spot whether footage comes from real-life combat or whether it's gameplay footage. The devs point to low-resolution and blurry images, shaky camera techniques, and footage taken in the dark to "hide the video game scene's insufficient level of detail".
Other tells include a lack of sound, not including humans in motion, and "unnatural particle effects", as well as unrealistic uniform detail and visible heads-up display elements. One would like to think that nobody would be credulous enough to think footage where a clear HUD is visible could be mistaken for real-life combat footage, but, well, that's the world we live in.
Bohemia ends its address by asking Arma 3 players not to use "clickbait video titles" and also to state that the footage they're uploading came from a game and isn't intended to depict real-life conflict. The war in Ukraine is being fought largely with information as well as through combat, so it's important to make sure the truth is known to as much of an extent as possible. Next time you spot a purportedly "real" video of the conflict in Ukraine, try to look for some of the telltale signs that it's actually Arma 3 footage. You might be surprised.