No Man’s Sky, Death Threats and Swatting: Is Our Addiction to Video Games Getting Out of Hand?
Video games have become a cornerstone of our entertainment culture. By offering a chance to live impossible lives completely unlike our own, video games are the center of an entire subculture, intertwining with the anime, comic book, and television fandoms.
But just like all the other things we love, sometimes we can love them… a bit too much. When it comes to ‘nerd’ stuff, we all know the stereotype of the superfans: walls covered in artwork and posters, towers of figures and collectibles, overly enthusiastic cosplayers- the list goes on and on.
Truth be told, I see absolutely nothing wrong with these types of fans: I know quite a few people who some would say meet that stereotype, and I love them (usually). The people I’ve just describe cause no harm, they are simply expressing their love for an art form, which in itself is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. I completely support geeking out over the things you love; do you, beau.
The problem begins when we cross a certain line- when being a fan causes harm. When we come to vehemently hate each other based solely on our opinions of a series, character, or game. When we tear each other down over the quality of our art or cosplay outfits instead of recognizing a shared passion.
When we make threats against others over social media content and online gaming- or the game developers themselves.
Recently Sean Murray, the creator of the highly anticipated video game ‘No Man’s Sky,’ opened up about the fact that he’s received an influx of death threats due to the delay of the game’s release. Originally slated for a PC and PS4 release in early June, ‘No Man’s Sky’ has been pushed back to August 9th.
I have received loads of death threats this week, but don’t worry, Hello Games now looks like the house from Home Alone #pillowfort
— Sean Murray (@NoMansSky) May 28, 2016
Though he attempted to make light of the situation, it’s easy to see that Murray is in fact quite shaken by the amount of venom and hate being spewed in his direction over this delay, regardless of fact that the delay is out of his hands.
Murray speaking out about death threats is highlighting a massive problem in the geek/nerd subculture; no matter how intense your love may be, making threats of any kind is never okay.
For too long we’ve allowed the internet and anonymity to foster this terrifying and incredibly harmful side of the geek subculture. Holding people responsible for the things they say online is nearly impossible, providing a false sense of safety for people to express truly nasty things- but how can we know what is just a temper tantrum and what is legitimate?
The most disturbing thing to me is a new phenomenon in the geek subculture: swatting. For those who don’t know, swatting in the act of calling someone’s local police department- or as far up as the FBI- and making false reports such as accusations of pedophilia, terrorist activities, our other serious crimes. The intent of these false claims is to cause someone- usually a rival on an online game or forum- to be raided by a S.W.A.T. team, assaulted, and arrested.
Swatting is a serious offense, leading to at least one arrest on the part of the caller. Beyond the obvious dangers of having a fully armed S.W.A.T. team unexpectedly infiltrate one’s home, it honestly makes me wonder how something that is supposed to be about entertainment and happiness can lead to such cruelty and evil intentions.
Are we so addicted to video games that it’s lead to this kind of behavior? That we’ve lost respect for other people’s lives? That we’re willing to throw everything away?
Do you think people should be held responsible for the threats they make online? Comment below with your opinion!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.