Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is the latest video game to be misappropriated by a TV station for a report: news channel Russia Today used a screenshot from Konami's upcoming action-adventure to introduce a segment on child soldiers.
The screenshot above — one of the official screenshots displayed on Konami's website — appears in a segment in which hip-hop artist and activist Emmanuel Jal discusses his childhood war experiences and the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. Metal Gear Solid 5 takes place in the 1980s and features segments in Africa, but Russia Today's use of the screenshot is totally off the mark.
Not to mention it's a screenshot of, you know, a video game being used to illustrate a real-world crisis.
But there is precedence for this! News stations borrowing the image and likeness of video games to represent their own stories has become "a thing" in recent years. In 2011, British channel ITV apologized for faking footage and using clips from shooter Arma 2 to do so. The following May, the BBC used the logo of Halo's United Nations Space Command instead of the symbol belonging to its subject, the United Nations Security Council.
Update: A representative for Russia Today contacted Polygon to say that the use of the Metal Gear Solid 5 screenshot used by SophieCo, the political commentary showed that aired it, "was deliberate." Since the broadcast, a disclaimer has been posted on the show's webpage noting that the image is a screenshot from Metal Gear Solid 5.
We have reached out to ask why the program chose this particular video game image and will share further details as we receive them.