Players of War Thunder take the game very seriously, perhaps too seriously in this case, as one gamer leaked classified UK military documents in a bid to prove that a tank featured in the game wasn't modelled accurately enough.
The tank in question, the Challenger 2, is one of the main battle tanks that are used by the British Army and have been in service since 1994. They've been used in major operations such as Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo, and of course, are featured in the video game War Thunder, a free-to-play multiplayer war simulation game. Generally, the machines represented in War Thunder are pretty accurate to their real-life counterparts, and the game does have a focus on realistic physics for both the vehicles and the weapons they fire.
But not according to one player, who went a little too far in order to demonstrate a point. The gamer in question, who claimed to be an actual Challenger 2 tank commander and a former memory of the British Army, leaked documents to prove his view that the tank as depicted in the game was inaccurate, leaving it vulnerable to enemy fire which it wouldn't be in real life.
The leaked documents consisted of classified images of the tank from a Challenger 2 Army Equipment Support Publication, which were heavily redacted and were labelled with "UK Restricted," although these had been crossed out and the document also had a stamp of "unclassified" on it. The game's developers, Gaijin, stated that they wouldn't be taking any action on this new information to improve the game model until "proof of this document's declassification" was proven, along with details of "where it was sourced from."
Unfortunately, the UK Ministry of Defence then informed Gaijin that the document was still, in fact, classified. One of the game's forum moderators posted stating that they had received a message from MoD Abbey Wood, stating that they "can confirm that it does appear to be a genuine extract. It certainly has not been released under FOI previously by DE&S or considered for redacting. We also do not recognise the 'Unclassified' stamp as something that has been used in DE&S."
The moderator also warned that "by continuing to disseminate it you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offence which can carry up to a 14-year prison sentence if prosecuted," before noting that "every time you post this you place us (International representatives of Gaijin), especially any UK citizens, in hot water as the warning so helpfully states that unauthorised retention of a protected document is an offence."
What isn't clear right now is if this is an innocent error or an actual attempt to leak classified data. It's also not known if the poster is indeed an actual Challenger 2 commander, or if they have obtained the document elsewhere. Interestingly though, despite seemingly haven broken the Official Secrets Act, a criminal offence, the account hasn't yet been banned from the forums.
We'll be sure to keep an eye on the situation and report any further details if we learn them.