Make Friendship and War: Why Some Players Have Over 2,000 Hours on Arma 3

January 1, 2021
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PC

If you work full-time and get two weeks of vacation every 12 months, that means that you spend about 2,000 hours a year at your job, which is the same amount of time as a number of gamers have spent playing Arma 3 over the past five years. 

“I have just shy of 1,500 hours on Arma 3, which is the same amount of time that you need to become an airline pilot,” said Chris Kelly, a 19-year-old pilot from New Hampshire who’s been playing Arma 3 since 2014. “And it’s possible I’ll log another 1,500 hours, because my friends play it, and I’ll only really regret it in hindsight.”

Chris Kelly poses with a friend that he plays Arma with.


Of all the games with dedicated fan bases, few have as many players with playtimes in the quadruple digits as the first-person shooter Arma 3. According to Steam, of the 5 million people who have bought Arma 3, 3.6% of them have earned an achievement for spending 200 hours in-game. However, some of those gamers have played the game for over ten times that already high amount. 

Attila Martin is a 19-year-old from New York who has spent 2,895 hours, or 121 consecutive days, on Arma 3 since the game launched into Steam Early Access in March 2013.

“I don’t regret spending so much of my life on the game,” Martin said. “I’ve made a lot of friends, I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and it’s just been a huge part of my life. Arma is part of my life now.”


Although Martin has a number of other, more productive hobbies, he said that the reason he keeps playing Arma 3 on a near-daily basis is because of the friendships that he’s made while playing. Since buying the game, he’s met up in-person with a number of the people that he’s played with in the game’s various communities, and this is why he doesn’t think he’ll stop playing any time soon.

“At this point, I mainly just play Arma for the people aspect,” he said. “And I won’t stop playing until Arma 4 comes out.”

Arma 3 players dance in-game after completing a mission, an activity that helped strengthen many friendships following a long gaming session.


Martin isn’t alone, either. Michael Stevens, a 20-year-old IT worker from the Netherlands, has spent 2,300 hours in the game since he bought it in 2015, and plays Arma for about an hour a day.

“I’m happy that I have so many hours on Arma,” he said. “The game has taught me a lot of things, like how to be persistent and how to be social.”

Stevens described himself as an introvert, and he said that despite this, he’s been able to make a lot of social connections because of Arma.

“The barrier for entry, socially speaking, is a lot lower in the game than it is in real life,” he said. “You can share what you want when you’re playing, and you can leave behind the parts of you that you don’t like.”

The sometimes near-death experiences in Arma have also kept many players engaged with the game, despite it being over five years old


It’s this social aspect that’s also kept Gary DAchille, a 29-year-old firefighter and former infantry soldier from Maryland, playing the game for so long. He’s part of the group that we tagged along with last year, who go on virtual missions that help facilitate friendships more than other games.

“I play video games to de-stress from PTSD,” DAchille said. “And I get some sense of that family that I had while in the military here in the milsim units.”

DAchille also said he doesn’t regret the 2,500 hours that he has on the game, despite him working full-time, because it has allowed him to meet other combat veterans. 

“I know a lot of people, but all my friends are just about gone,” he said. “So I’ve met and gone on vacations with several of the people I’ve met in-game.”

A member of DAchille’s group takes a moment to smoke in-game, something that’s reminiscent of what he did during his time in the military.


DAchille, Kelly, Martin and Stevens all said that they plan on continuing to play the game for the foreseeable future, in spite of the fact that all four of them have logged more hours on the game than some people have worked this year. 

“I love blowing stuff up with my friends in video games,” said Kelly.

This is a simple enough reason on paper, but given the events of the past year and the increasing disconnect globally, it’s one that feels particularly pertinent today.

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Derek Johnson

Somebody once told me the world was going to roll me, and they were right. I love games that let me take good-looking screenshots and ones that make me depressed, so long as the game doesn't overstay its welcome.