One of the largest recreational markets in America is the video gaming industry, with a multitude of platforms and content types spanning the entire gamut of leisure time activities.
And while many will say “I’m no gamer”, a quick perusal of your Facebook and iPhone activity may prove otherwise. Social games such as FarmVille, Words With Friends, and Candy Crush all connect us, whether we realize it or not.
One of the more controversial uses of online gaming technology, however, have been the web-based console games known as first person shooters. This genre of gaming has exploded over the course of the last decade, with games in the Call of Duty lineage thoroughly owning the category. These games allows users to communicate with one another during the violent gaming experience, leading to a number of arguments often littered with racial epithets and ugly language. These arguments and the horrific insults that they inspire have become a common trope of the multiplayer online gaming experience, but now, isolated incidents of actual violence are arising from the interactions.
The latest abhorrent revenge behavior being spawned from these sessions is something called “swatting”, in which players target their opponents offline with phony 911 calls that deploy SWAT teams to their opponents homes.
This practice has cost at least one innocent man his life.
“Online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts that the shooting of a man Thursday night by Wichita police was the result of a ‘swatting’ hoax involving two gamers.
“Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston said Thursday night that police were looking into whether the call that led to the shooting was a case of swatting.
“Livingston said the department received a call that someone had an argument with their mother, that the father had been shot in the head and the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage.
“’That was the information we were working off of,’ he said.
“Officers went to the 1000 block of McCormick, preparing for a hostage situation and they ‘got into position,’ he said.
“’A male came to the front door,’ Livingston said. ‘As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.’
“Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.”
This deadly hoax is now bringing national attention to the inexcusable practice of “swatting”, and the impact that online gaming is having on our youth.
Furthermore, this despicable practice exploits the brave men and women of law enforcement in order to exact revenge over a video game, something that has many Americans furiously reevaluating how our young people spend their free time.