It looks like videogames are becoming so lifelike and mainstream that intelligence agencies have a bit of trouble differentiating them from reality. Case in point, a UK based publication named the Telegraph claimed that an intelligence agency named SITE mistook the Fallout 3 concept art above of a post nuclear Washington D.C. as being apart of an al Qaeda terrorist plot. The Telegraph said the image was taken off videos from two password protected sites with connections to al Qaeda. The site also allegedly contained chats that discussed nuclear attacks on the western world. The newspaper then said the images were actually from Bethesda’s upcoming title.
By the time this article was published, other outlets picked up the story and spread it around. SITE then issued the following press release saying they never said the images were in any way suspected to be connected to terrorists plans:
On May 30, 2008, the Telegraph newspaper ran a misleading story… which incorrectly and falsely described analysis provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Discussing a computer-generated image of a destroyed Capitol Building in Washington that was posted to a jihadist forum, the Telegraph claimed, without any basis, “The SITE Intelligence Group said that the image, showing a ruined Capitol Building in Washington, was created by extremists as part of discussions about the feasibility of nuclear strikes against the US and Britain.”
This claim is entirely false, as is the characterization that SITE is “embarrassed” or “red-faced.” SITE rejects the claims by the Telegraph and stands fully behind the accuracy of its information and analysis. SITE at no time maintained that the image “was created by extremists.”
It seems no matter where we look there is always going to be the foreboding fear that terrorists will attack us brought on by some overzealous media outlets. The tasteful thing for the Telegraph to do now is release a public apology as soon as possible.
For the record, Fallout 3 is coming out this fall for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
[See also: Fallout 3 gallery]