Gaming fans are usually harmless in their enthusiasm regarding their favorite titles. However, some gamers are overly enthusiastic, which can sometimes lead to mischievous and even unlawful behavior. In the most recent instance, a War Thunder fan leaked classified military documents during an argument on the developer’s forum – an act punishable with incarceration.
The developing team behind the War Thunder video game, Gaijin Entertainment, prides itself on the accuracy of in-game vehicle models, calling War Thunder the most comprehensive military game dedicated to aviation and armored vehicles. And in truth, there’s a fair commitment to accuracy in the game, given how the developer went all out on the realistic vehicle and weapons design and physics. However, as reported by Kotaku, a user named Fear_Naught demonstrated a little too much commitment to realism when he leaked classified military information regarding the UK’s Challenger 2 tank while trying to win an argument on the game’s message board.
Fear_Naught, who claimed that he’s a real-life Challenger 2 tank commander, complained that the Challenger 2 model design in the War Thunder video game significantly differs from the real-life version in ways that leave the tank more vulnerable to enemy fire. To prove the point, Fear_Naught posted classified images as an example of where the developer went wrong with the in-game design of the tank. The posted images originated from the Challenger 2 Army Equipment Support Publication, which is basically the tank’s user manual and a classified document.
Naturally, Gaijin Entertainment removed these images from the War Thunder message board due to the classified nature of the information shared. The company stated that proof of the information’s declassification would be required as well as where it was sourced before any action based upon the information can be taken. Shortly after, Gaijin Entertainment was contacted by the UK Ministry of Defense, which informed the developer, in writing, that the manual is indeed classified and that anyone disseminating the information it contains is in violation of the Official Secrets Act – an offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
A senior technical moderator for the War Thunder message board wrote that Fear_Naught should be aware of the violation, as he must’ve signed a declaration stating that he understands the Official Secrets Act and that any disclosure of classified information puts Gaijin Entertainment at risk. Moreover, due to the classified nature of the shared information, it can’t be used as valid source material, rendering Fear_Naught’s efforts useless. However, it’s still unclear whether Fear_Naught is an actual tank commander, or even a member of the UK military, which begs the following questions: if the user was indeed military personnel, why did he disclose classified information, and if he’s not, how and where did he procure it?
It’s quite possible that this was an accidental leak caused by an error in the declassification of classified information rather than the willful and nefarious act of treason. Depending on where the readership and the UK Ministry of Defense stand on it, it could be more or even less severe than the case of Microsoft’s employee who stole $10 million in Xbox Gift Cards. Still, the questions we asked about how the enthusiastic, or perhaps even zealous War Thunder player came to possess such information still stands.
War Thunder is a cross-platform vehicular combat multiplayer video game available on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Series X/S. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Nintendo Switch, but we speculate it would be playable on Valve’s new handheld PC.