‘Game Over’ for Swatters

There are funny pranks, stupid pranks, harmful pranks, and pranks taken just too far. Extreme video gamers brought attention to a prank called “swatting“. Swatting is the act of calling the police and reporting a criminal act taking place such as claiming an active shooter at another person’s residence or business that results in the SWAT team arriving to handle the matter.


Video gamers on popular online gaming sites like Twitch have taken part in this prank because webcams are used to see the other gamers with which one is playing. When a gamer gets mad for losing or just feels like pranking the other players, some have found the gamers’ addresses and reported a crime. Then, when the SWAT team comes rushing in to apprehend the alleged criminal, the other gamer can see the whole event unfold through the webcam.


Swatting has become such a problem that news outlets report strains on police departments. Even though this started as a video gamer outbreak, prank calls have been made on the homes of celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez. These stars were not too happy about the invasion, but comedian Russell Brand found it amusing.

russell brand

In response to swatting, the public has taken to social media expressing their frustration along with accounts of what it is like to be a victim of swatting. Some gamers have said they hate that this prank is shedding a bad light on all gamers. Others are disturbed because when police are dispatched to take care of a prank call, they are wasting time while another emergency may be taking place.

twitter swatting

Swatting is a federal offense and police are tracking down the prank callers as fast as they can. But what does a hoax like this mean for the world of media? After all, media are in the business of sharing trending news. If police waste time and resources responding to these pranks, are media wasting time and effort covering the cases?

swat team

This phenomenon definitely highlights the gaming world, so companies like Twitch and games like Call of Duty are receiving a great deal of attention, and by no means will their sales drop because of the “bad light” on gaming. These few reckless gamers succeeded in putting video gaming in the spotlight for a few weeks. It’s time to call “Game Over” for pranksters and “Game On” for video game lovers.

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5 Responses to ‘Game Over’ for Swatters

  1. Megan Breinig says:

    This concept is absolutely crazy. The trends among teenagers absolutely blow my mind. I can laugh at the less harmful things like planking, but the extremely dangerous ones like Neknomination and this are unacceptable. The SWAT team has much more important things to do than participate in a silly video game prank. Though I do admit, while reading this I had a vision of myself sitting in my childhood living room with my brother watching him play video games and being stormed by a SWAT team and it made me giggle.

  2. Gretchen Burnton says:

    I think you brought up an interesting point about whether the media are wasting their time in reporting on every SWAT incident. I wouldn’t exactly say they’re wasting their time in reporting the swatting incidents, considering this is a crazy phenomenon going on and hopefully coverage of it will dissuade others from joining in on it. Their “wasted time” is much different than a police department’s wasted time. The police department has to go out and resolve these calls, whereas the media technically doesn’t have to keep shedding light on the issue. They have a choice in the reporting and if there is something more important happening, then it’s the media’s ethical responsibility to focus their reporting more on that issue and stop focusing so heavily on swatting.

    Hopefully, though, the swatting doesn’t last too much longer, otherwise the media might end up shedding too much light on the issue instead of more prominent news. While they shouldn’t, the media certainly do have a tendency to focus on a story for longer than it should. (I’m talking about you CNN and your coverage of the missing Malaysia Airline flight).

  3. Gilberto Gamboa says:

    Thank you for making me aware of yet another term that is sweeping the nation. Or should I say, swatting the nation. I agree with Megan that this is crazy.

    As I read the post, I kept on asking myself; what is the government’s stance on this from a public affairs perspective? How about the video game developer’s as a PR perspective? Is this a security issue as well since the “losing” gamers are able to obtain the other’s address? Those are just some of the questions I would have liked to have known more answers for while reading the post, but overall well put together.

    Now I will think twice about playing an online game with a hostile live opponent.

  4. Joshua Hamel says:

    This seems like just another example of how toxic gaming and Internet culture, on which this practice is based, can be. I reported on and was a part of that community for a few years and harassment, verbal and other pranks like swatting, have always been more common than they should be. In recent months, it has gone through an upheaval labeled Gamergate in which harassment has only increased, including driving people out of their homes with threats because they are speaking out about issues like feminism and misogyny in the industry. There are plenty of good people in the industry, including friends, but there are also people like this that, to me at least, pretty much taint it all together with their actions.

  5. Shirin Ahmadpour says:

    Thank you all for commenting!
    It seems like it is always a gray area of whether coverage of a topic is beneficial or detrimental to a cause. Some may say that shedding light on this activity only sparks ideas for potential pranksters, while others think it might help dissuade people from making that call. The more this prank occurs, the more our law enforcement officials waste valuable time. Gretchen brought up a great point, that the media doesn’t have the same time constraints as law enforcement. Media have a choice of what to cover in a sense, whereas 911 calls cannot just be ignored. Hopefully, this prank and future pranks similar to it will come to an end, and gaming can go back to just being a game.

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