War Thunder player posts classified documents in argument over in-game accuracy of a tank

A forum debate gets a little spicy

Forums have, for time immemorial, been home to arguments that escalate well beyond any rational level of debate. A recent dust-up in the forums for War Thunder, though, might take the cake.

War Thunder, developed by Gaijin Entertainment, is a multiplayer vehicular combat game, positioned as the “most comprehensive” MMO military game, dedicated to aviation, armored vehicles, and naval craft ranging from the early 20th century to modern day. One of those vehicles is the Challenger 2, a battle tank in service with the British Army.

As reported by the UK Defence Journal, a player who identifies themselves as a commander of a Challenger 2 argued that War Thunder‘s portrayal isn’t quite accurate. And in an effort to prove their point, they posted images from the Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication, essentially the user’s manual) to show that it wasn’t modeled correctly.

The images have since been deleted, but the Journal’s report says the document had the “UK RESTRICTED” label crossed out and a stamp of “UNCLASSIFIED” added. Additional sections were reportedly fully blanked.

Templar_, a senior technical moderator, replied with the following:

“We have written confirmation from MoD that this document remains classified. 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. Of this you are already aware, as a service person you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take. 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.”

So, yikes. Community manager “Smin1080p” also commented on the post, saying that before any discussion or bug reports are made, “proof of this documents declassification will be required as well as where it was sourced from.”

“Last time such a document was shared that was claimed to be ‘unclassified’ it was in fact still classified and was confirmed that it should never have been shared,” they write. “We make it very clear that we will not handle any source material unless it is publicly available and fully declassified with the rights to prove that.”

I have seen some people get into some really bizarre, hilarious arguments over the years. I’ve seen them settled in all sorts of manner. I have never seen anything like this.

Eric Van Allen