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Art and ArmA II Imitates Life

We’ve all heard the saying that life sometimes imitates art. Recently, a case of art imitating life has come to light, and the example is even more glaring for the fact that the gaffe was propagated by media conglomerate ITV in the UK.

ITV aired a documentary called “Exposure – Gaddafi and the IRA.” Footage was shown of supposed terrorists using a heavy machine-gun mounted in the back of a truck to shoot down a distant helicopter. On the screen, the words “IRA film 1988” was boldy superimposed over the images while a voiceover commented, “This was what the security forces feared most. It may have been a lucky hit, but for the Army and crew once was enough. No one died in this attack…”.

However, the footage actually came from a war simulation game called Arma II, a tactical shooter released by Bohemia Interactive back in 2009. Players immediately recognized that in game footage was being mistaken for real combat footage and shortly thereafter, the Internet lit up like a Christmas tree. Posts about this ITV documentary started appearing on Bohemia Interactive’s ArmA II forums.

Marek Spanel, CEO of Bohemia Interactive, was reached for comment the following morning after the documenary aired and said he wasn’t even aware of the game’s use in the documentary.

“We were not aware of this at all. It is very weird to see our game used this way especially considering the journalists were simply unable to tell difference between reality and game footage and described a short film clearly made using our game Arma II with what they call real IRA footage from 1988. Our games offer a great level of freedom to our users to create all kind of things but in this particular case, it is very misleading. Plus it is surprising ITV did not seek for permission to use our game in this way.”

The lessons to be learned from all this? First, this was just shoddy journalism. Apparently no one checked the validity of this information or the source. Second, war is not a game – or rather, war could be a game, in which case you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the telly. Video through the link below.


Source: Kotaku

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