More Video Game Footage Substituting For War Footage As Russia Invades Ukraine
from the ghost-in-the-machine dept
It’s nothing new that video games are getting realistic enough at this point that some out there will use it and pass that footage off as things happening in real life. A rather innocuous example of this would be a real estate developer using images from a city-building game in a brochure, for instance. On the other hand, one of the more common ways we see this happen is with governments using footage from war simulation games to do things like pretend they have capabilities that they very much do not, pass off such footage as proof of IRL military strikes that didn’t occur in the manner shown in the footage, or the use of imagery from video games being used to accuse the United States of supporting ISIS when we very much did not.
Well, Russia has decided that peace and stability are rather boring and are currently attempting to either depose the government of Ukraine or annex it. The politics of all of this are too obvious to get into, but we’re already starting to see game footage being passed off as war footage in the conflict. In this case, it is not likely that any of the belligerent governments are doing this, but rather some enterprising internet users making use of Digital Combat Simulator: World footage to create the story of an ace Ukrainian pilot.
A clip of a Ukrainian fighter jet blowing up a suspected Russian aircraft started trending on social media yesterday. Many believed it was proof of the exploits of a mysterious and unverified ace pilot called the “Ghost of Kyiv.” It was actually fake footage from the 2013 PC game, Digital Combat Simulator: World.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second day, rumors began to circulate of Ukrainian fighter pilot responsible for taking down multiple Russian targets. “The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has claimed five Russian aircraft and a helicopter were shot down early Thursday,” CNN reported on February 24 (via Snopes). Russia, however, denied the losses.
The source of all this was a YouTube video that was very open that this footage was from the game. It claims it was made “out of respect” for this pilot that may or may not exist. Notably, whoever put the video together did some extra work in order to make it appear more real. As Kotaku notes, the video was made to look as though shot from a cell phone, for instance, not to mention audio of people supposedly gasping and talking throughout it as well.
So what does that mean? A number of things. First and foremost, everyone really needs to be more cautious about excepting that video footage about IRL events cannot be faked and faked quite well. That is obviously not the case.
But it’s also interesting that videos like these really are good enough to fool a great many people. The technology is progressing, sure, but so are people’s creative abilities for how to use it. I’m reminded of the fans of Grand Theft Auto that used some tools to make an entire movie out of game footage. That isn’t what’s going on here, of course, but as games get more realistic, more opportunities for skullduggery and creative output alike are going to come about.