Bohemia’s fight against misrepresentation through misuse of Arma 3 footage

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Last October, a video clip appeared to show Ukrainian artillery attacking a Russian tank went viral on social media. The footage has been shared thousands of times on social media.

 There was just one small problem. This video was not real ( reference URL ).

 In fact, this video was a gameplay video of military simulation Arma 3 produced by Czech studio Bohemia Interactive.

 It’s not the first time the game has been used to falsify images of conflict zones. In the past, Arma 3 has been used to camouflage footage of conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, as well as military operations in Israel and Palestine. It has also been used to forge footage of a fictional war between India and Pakistan. This isn’t the first time even footage of the Ukrainian war has actually turned out to be Arma 3 footage.

 Bohemia decided enough was enough. In November, the studio decided to publish a blog post outlining how the general public and media can tell if battlefield footage is real or if it was created in- game . This is the first time the studio has publicly mentioned Arma 3 being used in this way.

” We ‘ve been dealing with these videos for a very long time,” spokesperson  Pavel Křižka told . “Mostly from Arma 3, previously from Arma 2. Arma 3 is heavily used, mainly on social networks, to create videos that look like footage of real combat situations. “

 But these days, of course, because of the war in Ukraine, videos like this are getting a lot of popularity. I felt the need to respond officially to show, and I also wanted to educate the general public, and sometimes the media as well, who take this footage as real.

 ” The post was primarily intended to show that we are aware of the problem and that we are not happy that our game is being used to spread fake news and be used for war propaganda. Some may think it’s a hype, and it’s true, but it’s certainly mostly a negative for us.”

No developer wants their game to be used in this way

 The footage is used to spread fake news on social platforms, often fooling even the biggest media outlets, but Křižka says the origins of these footage are generally not too guilty. After all, there are just people trying to get attention on social media.

 ”It comes from people trying to get views on YouTube.” “

 They don’t want to spread propaganda, they just want their YouTube channel to grow, so they use clickbait titles for their videos.” The problem comes when it goes viral, or when the media and state agencies take the video as what they think represents an actual battle with it.

 ” It’s been done for quite some time. For nearly a decade, Bohemia has been working with platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to flag these videos for easy removal.

 ”No developer wants their game to be used in this way,”

 says Křižka. “The process was endless and very inefficient.” “It takes time to communicate with the platform owner, and eventually a particular video may be removed, but by that time 10 different videos have been uploaded.” As a result,

 Bohemia In recent years, it has begun contacting fact-checking agencies and the media, including Reuters and AFP, in an attempt to counter such misinformation.

 ”How to counter videos like this is the best way from our point of view,” Křižka says. “These organizations and media outlets have better tools and reach to fight effectively. We’re in touch with fact-checkers like this at least once or twice a week. They send me a video and ask me to confirm if it’s from Arma 3 or some other game, which worked pretty well, but I deleted all the videos that were uploaded You can’t, even now it’s a never-ending process.”

 Given how quickly companies like Take-Two and Konami can remove leaked gameplay and trailer footage from platforms like YouTube, it’s an actual war. It seems that the same can be said for the Arma 3 image drawn like the image of. But Křižka explains that the problem isn’t necessarily the videos themselves, but rather the sheer volume of them.

 ”We’re still flagging the big stuff at this time, but there are hundreds and thousands of videos like this all over the internet these days. It’s a big deal for us. YouTube, We don’t have enough capacity to go through and flag all the videos on Instagram, TikTok, etc.” “First of all,

 we are game developers. We need to focus on our work. For example, on YouTube, even if the video has the title of clickbait, sometimes it says in the back of the video description or at the end of the video that this video is actually taken from a game. Most people don’t read the descriptions of the videos, so even that can’t be helped.It’s a very delicate task in this case.”

 There are claims that Arma 3’s use in this way is a result of Arma 3’s design. The game is a realistic simulation of modern warfare, with mods allowing users to modify and adjust the game to their liking. But at the same time, it allows it to be used in fake war footage.

 “We are very sorry about this situation,” said Křižka. “There’s not much more I can say because it’s impossible to stop this. But we can fight. We’re doing our best. For developers, games are their children, who We don’t want to see the fruit of their efforts exploited in such evil ways.”

 Currently, Bohemia is Arma 4 and the “stepping stone” between the 3rd and 4th editions of the military sim. A game, Arma Reforger, is in development. Given the issue with Arma being used to camouflage war footage, we have to ask whether the studio will change its approach to games. The short answer is “no”.

It is impossible to stop this. But it is possible to fight it. we are doing our best

 ”I can’t say much about Arma 4 at this point, but it will definitely be an open and creative platform where people can modify it to their liking,” Křižka says. “Arma 4 has a new Enfusion engine that allows for more open modding. Enfusion and games that will have Enfusion will give users what we call the Enfusion Workbench. It’s a toolset that the developers of are also using.We plan to provide very powerful tools for the community to modify the game the way they want.Arma 4 will be moddable in a different way. But that’s still a few years away,”

 he continues. “We’ll think about ways to make it as difficult as possible to abuse our product to spread fake news or make propaganda videos. Currently, Steam Workshop will remove illegal mods. But if a mod is legal, we definitely don’t want it removed just because it was used in a propaganda video, we value people’s creative freedom, and it’s abuse It’s a real shame that it’s being used.”

 Bohemia isn’t the only game company to be used in this way. As Russia’s war with Ukraine began in February, footage of a Ukrainian MiG-29 defeating an invading plane began to be widely shared on social media. The pilot, dubbed the “Ghost of Kiev,” is credited with shooting down at least six Russian planes and played a role in boosting the morale of the Ukrainian military. They didn’t exist either. The footage was from the 2013 video game Digital Combat Simulator.

 Bohemia has probably waged one of the longest battles against misusing their games as real footage. So, I asked for advice for companies in similar situations.

 “It depends,” says Křižka. “Some games aren’t easy to mod. If a game’s vanilla content is used for war propaganda, it’s likely a violation of the end-user license agreement, and legally it’s malicious. It might be easier to remove some things, but it’s more difficult when it’s possible to modify the game.”

All uploaded videos cannot be deleted. It’s never-ending work

 ”In this case, it’s more difficult. But I think the way we work with the media and fact-checkers is the best way to go when there’s a lot of videos going around. Dozens of videos. If so, it’s definitely within the game studio’s ability to fight one by one, but in our case, that’s impossible.” The abuse of Arma’s gameplay footage

 is It’s obviously something that bothers studios a lot, but Bohemia doesn’t have a specific team working on this countermeasure. Rather, the responsibility is spread across the company.

 ”Basically, everyone in the studio is working on this issue,” Křižka explains. “We see a lot of videos about games, so when someone sees a video like that, whether it’s a developer or a marketer, they put up a flag to let us know. Of course, we have the legal department, They’re dealing with things like this, but there’s no one here who’s just browsing the internet every day and doing just that sort of thing, and we’re focusing more on game development work.

 Křižka acknowledged that Bohemia could hire some staff or even a team to handle this, but like most companies in the games industry, they don’t have enough workers and He says we need to focus on winning battles.

 ”We could do that, but you know,” he says. “Like many game studios, we don’t have enough people. And we need to hire professional developers. Plus, we’re going to contract some workers for us. It’s a big battle, and there will be too many fronts to fight.”

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