Swatting Has Come To Gaming
But is it in Second Life yet?
First, what’s your opinion on a 15 year old going to prison for ‘swatting’. Do you think he’d deserve it or have you never even heard of ‘swatting’ before?
Swatting’s when someone contacts the police and falsely accuses someone else (often a mate or a rival) of a serious crime and gives the police their location or pretends to be from that location themselves.
The way it happens is that the person’s location and identity is reported to the police as being involved in a murder or in making a bomb threat. The police then raid the home and when it’s a gamer, the person accused is caught on camera being hit by a ‘SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team’.
Gaming targets are usually those who “livestream“. That means gamers who broadcast themselves and their gameplay live over the Internet to fans and in-game rivals. Their friend and/or rival thinks it’s a good prank to get them on camera while the police raid and arrest them while they’re playing live.
Recently, National Report posted a news article about a kid who got 25 years in an adult prison for ‘swatting’. This article was a hoax, however it highlights the growing problem with swatting. These ‘swatting’ incidents are a rising thing in the computer gaming community as part of game rivalry and competitiveness.
Although not involved in gaming, a teenage hacker named Matthew Weigman was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for his role in “swatting” hoaxes in 2008. The investigation led to more than 250 different incidents where police were called out for a false alarm. Swatting is a vicious thing and could even be deadly.
Celebrity ‘swatting’ is also a growing trend, with anyone in the limelight attracting ‘swatters’. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, Tom Cruise, Simon Cowell and Chris Brown have all been ‘swatted’ in the past. It’s a dangerous game.
Now this trend is entering the ‘gamers’ world too. This includes Second Life and other virtual worlds.
So why should we be concerned?
While many targets are gamers, there’s an increasing trend for people to put their game play onto Livestream. Many Trolls and Griefers already use Livestream and YouTube Live to promote their own pranks. It’s only a matter of time for this to become more of a mainstream practice for more of us.
This trend points to swatting as a dangerous and potentially lethal fad among gamers. If a gamer can locate a rivals IP or their residential address, they will call it in as a dangerous threat to the local law enforcement agency and watch as the “livestreamer’s” house is forcibly entered by police.
Threats to Second Life residents
As more and more live streaming is done by ‘Trolls’ and ‘Griefers’ in games like Second Life, they are opening themselves up to this kind of incident happening in their own homes. After all, trolls delight in visiting places, making enemies and acting like fools to ridicule those they visit. Some of the ones that stream live online and show themselves sitting at the computer are opening themselves out to trouble already. It’s only a matter of time before a SWAT team visits one of their homes and we all see it on TV. Maybe a new trend of ‘Troll Swatting’ will happen?
It may be a little bit harder to identify someone’s real life location in Second Life because you need the IP address to pinpoint people. This is not so easy to detect through Second Life. However I’m sure that any enterprising rival griefer or troll can find an IP address out quite easily. This may also be true for anyone who makes a lot of enemies in a game such as Second Life.
We can only wait to see what happens! One thing for certain is that one day a ‘swatting’ will go bad. Let’s hope it’s not in Second Life. It would be a tragedy for somebody to get killed through a swatting prank, especially if it were related to the game we all enjoy.
What’s your opinion about this?