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.
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.
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?
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.