Russian state news network Pervi Kanal accidentally aired footage from military shooter Arma 3 during a segment about the Syrian War on Sunday. After the fact, Arma 3’s developers told Kotaku that although they’re happy that their “efforts to make authentic simulation gameplay [appear] pretty successful. . . this is definitely not a method we want to use to promote our games.”
Arma 3 is a realistic-looking military tactical shooter. Released in 2015, the game is popular among soldiers and military buffs alike. The footage aired on TV, which you can see at 2:35 in this footage, shows crosshairs from Arma 3 aimed at a tank.
Pervi Kanal was celebrating Russian soldier Alexander Prokhorenko, a 26-year-old senior lieutenant who was killed in Palmyra, Syria. In 2016, he was surrounded by ISIS fighters and called an airstrike on himself. Later that year, Russian President Vladimir Putin named him a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honor for service to Russia. In a segment honoring Prokhorenko on Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day, Pervi Kanal explained (as translated by Kotaku), “‘Russians never surrender. It’s in their genetic code.’ These words probably were sounding in the mind of Prokhorenko when he called in a bomb attack on advancing ISIS forces,” while quickly cutting to footage of crosshairs from Arma 3. (The developers say they did not give Pervi Kanal permission to use that footage.)
A representative told another Russian news source that it was “a human error.”
Surprisingly, this sort of thing happens a lot. A year ago, CNN aired footage from Fallout in a segment about Russian hacking. Before that, the BBC used Halo’s UNSC symbol while discussing the United Nations. Metal Gear’s child soldiers have appeared in news stories about real child soldiers.