Arma 3 is a hyper realistic military simulation and sandbox. It's meant to be a realistic modeling of real world conflict. It's even teamed up with the International Committee of the Red Cross to release DLC that details the after effects of armed conflict. A sister studio, Bohemia Interactive Simulations, broke from the company in 2013 and makes simulations for the Pentagon using similar technology. The game is also a sandbox with a vibrant modding scene (PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds began its life as an Arma 3 mod) that allows players to customize the game however they want. That devotion to realism and open platform has made Arma 3 the perfect platform to use to create fake war footage. "While it's flattering that Arma 3 simulates modern war conflicts in such a realistic way, we are certainly not pleased that it can be mistaken for real-life combat footage and used as war propaganda," Pavel Krizka, PR Manager of Bohemia Interactive, said in a November 28 press release. "It has happened in the past (Arma 3 videos allegedly depicted conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, and even between India and Pakistan), but nowadays this content has gained traction in regard to the current conflict in Ukraine."
The life cycle is almost always the same. An Arma 3 nerd uploads something to YouTube and other people pull the video, edit it to make it look more realistic, then pass it off as actual footage of the conflict. The footage goes viral then the fact-checkers come in and tell everyone it's a video game. Bohemia Interactive issues a statement and then everyone waits for the next fake to come along. "We've been trying to fight against such content by flagging these videos to platform providers (FB, YT, TW, IG etc.), but it's very ineffective," Krizka said in the press release. "With every video taken down, ten more are uploaded each day. We found the best way to tackle this is to actively cooperate with leading media outlets and fact-checkers (such as AFP, Reuters, and others), who have better reach and the capacity to fight the spreading of fake news footage effectively."Some of the tells of fake footage include a low resolution, a shaky camera, and/or a night setting. "They're often without sound, don't feature people in motion, and sometimes still include the HUD elements from the video game," adds Motherboard. "There's typically unnatural particle effects, unrealistic vehicles, uniforms, and equipment." "We have seen many Arma players pointing out mistakenly identified footage, which helps viewers understand what they're seeing," said Bohemia Interactive. "Thank you for helping!"