A video war game at the origin of a wave of misinformation

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A war video game sparked a wave of disinformation

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">Image from the war video game “Arma 3”

Military clashing in burning cities, airplanes fighters being shot down by missiles, drones pulverizing tanks: these lifelike images are taken from war video games such as Arma 3.


Excerpts from this game, with the live or breaking news banners often added to them to make them look more authentic, have frequently been used in fake videos purporting to depict the Russian invasion of Ukraine.< /p>

The ease with which they deceive the public, and sometimes even television channels, worries researchers.

It's a reminder of how easily people can be fooled, Claire Wardle, co-director of the University's Information Futures Lab, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Brown, United States.

With improved video game visuals, CGI can, at first glance, appear real, explains she. People need to know how to verify these images, especially how to examine the metadata, so that these errors are avoided, especially by the media.

The case Arma 3

Arma 3, from the Czech studio Bohemia Interactive, allows you to generate various scenarios of battles using aircraft, tanks and various weapons. Several players then relay online videos of their adventures, which are sometimes diverted.

Although it is flattering that Arma 3 simulates modern conflicts so realistically, we are not happy that it can be confused with real combat images and used as war propaganda, reacted in a press release a representative of the studio.


“We try to combat this content by reporting it to the platforms, but it is not at all effective. For every video taken down, 10 more are uploaded every day.

— A spokesperson for studio Bohemia Interactive

In recent years, the images of Arma 3have also been used to falsely illustrate conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine, information regularly denounced by digital verification media.

According to Bohemia Interactive, these diversions have experienced a renewed popularity with the invasion of Ukraine, sometimes nicknamed the first TikTok war because of the many images that illustrate it on social networks.

Media have also been fooled: Romania TV in November showed an old video of Arma 3 highlighting that it showed fighting in Ukraine, and a former defense minister as well as an ex-intelligence chief both commented on the images as if they were authentic.

Already in February, another Romanian channel , Antena 3, mistakenly broadcast an old Arma 3 videoand invited the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense to analyze it, who contented himself with general remarks on the conflict.

Images proliferate on social networks

On social networks, the reasons for relaying these false excerpts vary.

I suspect the people posting this content are just trolls wanting to see how many people they can trick, Nick Waters of digital forensic site Bellingcat told AFP.

The Internet users who then relay these publications are, according to him, naive people who are trying to obtain visibility or subscriptions on the Internet.

Given the unsophisticated nature of the disinformation based on the Arma 3 excerpts, it is unlikely to emanate from the government, according to the specialists.

For these people, these excerpts are easier to verify than deepfakes (deepfakesin English), which consist in using the intelligence artificial to create confusingly realistic images, which are increasingly used in the criminal world.

If you know what to expect, these videos [d 'Arma 3] are actually not that hard to identify as fake, Nick Waters adds. Unfortunately, he regrets, many people lack the skills to spot misinformation.

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