The video game industry is a vast and wonderful one. A lot of great things can happen for and to people who are a member of this great community. The main objective is to entertain and provide fun and amusement for those participating. Video games are meant to bring you the best of emotional responses. Fun party games bring you and your friends together and give you happiness and social connection. Racing games are meant to thrill you and get your adrenaline going. Role-playing games allow you to go on epic adventures that you might otherwise never have the opportunity to enjoy. Horror games give you the ability to raise your adrenaline in other ways, and scare yourself in a safe environment. All of these things are the best of video games. So then why does the video game industry have to go and screw itself over with things like swatting?
I know that was a bit of a whirlwind of a transition there, but it's something that well and truly bothers me. My love for the video game industry is absolutely endless, and I know that's true for most gamers. So it almost pains me physically when something as nasty as swatting starts being seen as the norm.
I'm sure everyone's on the same page here, but just in case, here's a quick run-down on swatting. It is the act of someone calling the police (or other authorities) to report a fake crime in order to send them to a household where a gamer is currently streaming. It's a sick prank that has often had deadly effects. The use of deadly force by authorities in these situations is another entirely that I could talk at length about. But what I'd like to focus on here are the people doing the swatting and those affected by it.
What brought about this newfound discussion and surge of hatred for me was the news that a 12-year-old boy had been swatted while livestreaming. The Fortnite player goes by the name of Rolly Ranchers, and he recently saw a surge in popularity thanks to a recommendation from another popular YouTuber. A burst of success is a joyous time for anyone, no matter what career or hobby they are enjoying. If you like building model trains and someone recognized your work as museum quality, thus sparking a conversation with museums around the country for models, you'd be thrilled! Now imagine that kind of thrill in a child.
There's almost certainly something from your childhood that excited you. A lot of times, childhood excitement can even be life-altering. I won a silly little video production competition early on in high school, and that led to my pursuit of a film production degree. This 12-year-old boy's newfound popularity could have brought him the happiest time of his life. He should have been enjoying playing his favorite game and enjoying the social aspect that comes with livestreaming, connecting with your followers. Instead, he was left almost wordlessly crying in front of all the new people who had come to watch him play a game. They of course were left flabbergasted as to what had just happened until Rolly revealed that he had been swatted.
Apparently, someone had called the authorities and claimed that Rolly and his mother were going to hang themselves. The pair were lucky enough to escape the incident unharmed, albeit rattled for sure. Rolly was even voicing concerns for streaming in the future over the incident.
This sort of thing should absolutely not be happening. When swatting first started popping up on police radars, steps should have been taken to prevent it from happening. It's my belief that investigations into swatting incidents should be taken incredibly seriously. If you call 911 to report something that isn't true, you can find yourself in a world of trouble with the law. If you call 911 to report something that isn't true, that could potentially seriously injure or kill someone, you should be investigated and punished to the full extent of the law.
Preventative measures should be taken to keep this sort of thing from happening. Maybe that means tipsters need to be questioned a little bit more, in an attempt to suss out untruths. Maybe gamers, as a whole, need to speak out against swatting, and villify it. This isn't calling someone and telling them to go catch their refrigerator if it's running. That is a harmless prank. Swatting involves putting the police on high alert for non-existent threats, which of course make them fear for their lives, which then leads to these awful news stories about people being hurt or killed.
Finally, my other big concern that I have for swatting is simple. I hope that the few absolutely horridly rotten and festering individuals who participate in swatting don't taint the image of gaming or gamers for the rest of us. You know people like to blame real life violence on video games? And you know how the vast majority of gamers (myself included) groan and roll our eyes every time that scapegoat argument comes up? Well swatting is not helping our case. It's an infinitesimal part of what gaming is all about, but those against gaming will latch on to it as their golden goose. I also hope that these few bad eggs don't scare people away from streaming. The live stream is one of the best things to come out of the last few decades. It allows people to connect in ways they never could before, and that is absolutely wonderful. I'd hate for some potentially great streamers to back down from it for fear of swatting.
There is absolutely no excuse for endangering the lives of others. Swatting is obviously not a harmless prank, there are news stories to prove it. It should never have become a reoccurring thing in the first place, and should absolutely not continue into the future. What do you think we could do to stop it? The discussion starts here my friends, and we should not stop until no one even knows what swatting means.