Civilians (sometimes also referred to as non-combatants) are a neutral faction that have appeared in every main ArmA game in the series to date.
Civilians are almost always unarmed and do not take a direct part in any of the hostilities between BLUFOR, OPFOR, and Independent factions. Law enforcement officers, paramedics, firefighters, and non-military intelligence personnel are also considered as civilians to correctly reflect current international law.
The Remnants of War campaign added with the release of the Laws of War DLC for ArmA 3 in particular, explores the theme of civilians caught in the crossfire between armies, especially with regards to Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) like the IDAP, and also demonstrates the purpose of the laws of armed conflict (LOAC) in practice.
Civilians are always coloured purple on player maps and are either white or green when targeted. Throughout the series, several in-game mechanics are used to ensure that players adhere to the rules of war and are punished if they try to go against them.
Players are never "rewarded" for attacking civilians, and are always penalised for attempting to do so. Campaigns for example, will automatically fail the current mission with a game over should the player attempt to kill or wound even a single civilian. In other scenarios, the player will not fail the mission instantly, but will instead be unable to complete important objectives that will result in negative outcomes and in the case of campaigns with multiple endings, the worst endings as well.
In regular gameplay (and the editor itself as well), a point score system is used to track the player's "status" and is used to discourage them from causing collateral damage. Killing civilians or deliberately destroying non-military vehicles/structures for instance, will heavily penalise players by giving them a negative score. In almost every situation, this will automatically mark them as a "renegade" and turns them into a hostile target that will be fired upon by all sides; the player's own faction and squad members included.
- Victor Troska (Former civilian-turned-guerilla, ArmA: Cold War Assault)
- Anita Baker (NGO aid worker, ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead)
- Dr. Hladik (NGO aid worker, ArmA 2: British Armed Forces)
- Mark Cole (AAN news journalist, ArmA 3)
- Nathan MacDade (IDAP aid worker/field consultant, ArmA 3: Laws of War)