Developers of indie studio Bohemia Interactive would like to address the recent dissemination of video footage from their game Arma 3, which is being misrepresented as footage of real conflicts, primarily the Ukraine war.

These user-generated videos have the potential to go viral and be widely shared by social media users; partly also by mainstream media and official government institutions. The Arma 3 team would like to take this opportunity and explain how to distinguish in-game videos from real footage.

There is a difference between reality and play 

More than just a military simulation game, Arma 3 is a unique sandbox platformer. The original game is about a futuristic conflict in the year 2035. However, a big pillar of the Arma series is user customization and user-created content (modding). Modders can create entirely new terrain, vehicles, planes, weapons, uniforms, equipment and scenarios and share them with the player community.

To date, about 20.000 Arma 3 mods are available to download from the Steam Workshop. This means that players can recreate or simulate in detail any historical, current or futuristic conflict (thanks to an advanced game engine). However, this freedom of the Arma 3 platform also has a major disadvantage: Videos from Arma 3, especially with mods, are misused to spread fake news.

“One might find it flattering in a way that Arma 3 can simulate modern wartime conflicts in such a realistic way. However, we are less than thrilled that the game is being confused with actual combat footage and being used as war propaganda. This has happened in the past (Arma 3 videos have allegedly depicted conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and between India and Pakistan). Currently, these videos have received impetus in connection with the conflict in Ukraine. We have already attempted to take action against such content by reporting it to platform operators (FB, YT, TW, IG, etc.). Unfortunately, this has proven to be very ineffective. With every deleted video, ten new ones are uploaded. We think the best way to solve this problem is to work with leading media outlets and fact-checkers (like AFP, Reuters and more). They have more reach and more capacity to fight the spread of fake news video footage,” says Pavel Křižka, PR Manager at Bohemia Interactive.

The developers themselves reveal how to distinguish in-game videos from real recordings:

  • Very low resolution
  • Even older smartphones can record videos in HD quality. Fake videos are often of significantly lower quality and are deliberately pixelated and blurred to hide that they are from a video game.
  • Shaky camera
  • To add more dramatic effects, these videos are often not recorded in-game. The writers film a computer screen while the game is running at low quality, with exaggerated camera shake.
  • Often plays in the dark/at night
  • The footage is often dark to hide the low level of detail in the video game scenes.
  • Mostly without sound
  • In-game sound effects can often be distinguished from reality.
  • Without people moving
  • While the game can simulate the movement of military vehicles fairly realistically, capturing natural-looking people in motion remains difficult, even in the most modern games.
  • Heads Up Display (HUD) elements visible
  • Sometimes user interface with weapon selection, ammo counter, vehicle status, in-game messages, etc. are visible. These usually appear at the edges or in the corners of the recording.
  • Unnatural particle effects
  • Even the most modern games struggle to depict explosions, smoke, fire and dust naturally and how they react to their environment. Pay particular attention to strangely separated clouds.
  •  Unrealistic vehicles, uniforms, equipment
  • Those with knowledge of military equipment can spot unnatural material in a given conflict. For example, in a particularly popular fake video, the US air defense system C-RAM shoots down an American A-10 fighter jet. Units may also display inauthentic insignia, camouflage, or similar.

Bohemia Interactive would like to ask players and content creators of Arma 3 to be responsible with their recordings. When sharing such videos, they should not use "clickbait" titles and always make it clear that the video is from a game and is not based on real events. There are many Arma players who point out misidentified recordings, which helps viewers to understand. Bohemia Interactive would like to thank these players for their support.

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Last updated on 9.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API