Murphy's Law: Is It Real? Does It Matter?


March 18, 2012: Twice in the last year British media have been embarrassed when it was revealed that photos and video they used for stories on military topics were actually from computer games. For example, last September, to illustrate a documentary on terrorism, video from a 2009 video game (Arma II) was used to show a shoulder fired missile taking down a helicopter. More recently, a newspaper story on a recent attempt (it failed) by British and Nigerian commandos to rescue two hostages used screen captures from a more recent video game (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare) to illustrate the piece.

What this sort of thing does demonstrate is the extreme visual realism currently found in video games. It also reveals that media often use whatever visuals they can find to illustrate stories. Editors often refer to these items as "stock photos", meaning that they come from a library of images the newspaper or magazine maintains or from companies that maintain such libraries just for these situations.

The media involved in these situations apologized but were not willing to reveal why they had used video game images. Perhaps it was just convenient, as many young male reporters get most of their military information from playing these games.



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