The #Gamergate situation is not only intricate and complex but also at times legitimately illegal and dangerous. The gaming community is massive and makes up a huge industry - however, there is an extremely vocal minority that has in essence, ruined a good thing.
There has been an influx of combative words and even threats aimed at women and some men in the gaming community and I think most people can agree that there's no place for anything like that in something that is supposed to be positive, fun, and inclusive. For me to break down Gamergate would not only be long winded, but would probably fail to cover all perspectives and wouldn't cover all the bases.
But what I can do is tell you a story - a story about a couple that just wanted to stream themselves playing [Call Of Duty](movie:1068472), and ended up with a SWAT team at their home.
Max and Victoria Zeisberg are a young married couple with three children who enjoy gaming. Because of this, they were attacked by anonymous troublemakers. While I want to iterate that this particular incident probably did not have an origin from Gamergate (it originally started out as kids pranking one another), "swatting" is something that is happening and that clearly needs to stop.
Kotaku defines swatting:
When someone is swatted, a SWAT team shows up under false pretenses. It's a costly, scary, and dangerous "joke" that's resulted in a Canadian teen being arrested and parents getting mixed up in misguided gaming rivalries. Swatting isn't exclusive to video games, as several Hollywood celebrities can attest, but modern gaming often involves live streaming our experiences. A quick glance at Twitch's front page makes it easy to find people playing. Anyone could be a target.
In this case, Victoria Zeisberg, an insurance agent, unfortunately had her contact information publicly available online for professional reasons, which gave anonymous swatters all the info they needed to stage the attack.
I'm sure when the SWAT team arrived at the Zeisbergs' home, it was completely surreal for the couple. Going from having fun with simulated warfare to a team of men with large, real guns showing up to their home - into which the couple had newly moved - must have been something from a nightmare.
The report states:
While holding perimeter, Central Dispatch was attempting to keep the male caller online, where he had called in on the non-emergency administration phone line and was stating his name was Max Ziegler. He then stated that he was sitting in his bedroom and wanted officers to come in. He then told dispatch that he was a current heroin user and that he had used heroin earlier in the day. He then stated that he used an AR-15 Rifle to kill his wife and that he knew the cops were there was going to start killing them. Central was still attempting to talk the male into lying the gun down and coming out of the house but he was continuing to refuse.
The first mistake the "male caller" made was referring to the last name Ziegler and not Zeisberg. But the police took the situation seriously (as they should) and overlooked that error.
When the police arrived, the situation was incredibly dicey, as you can imagine. The police always tend to expect the worst in a scenario like this, so Mr. Zeisberg's only option was to be very careful not to give the SWAT team the wrong impression.
More from the police report:
Upon the couple coming out of the front door, officers did make request for them to come toward them with their hand raised. Upon the couple reaching my location the couple was detained for safety reasons. I did explain to them that they were not under arrest and that they were only detained for safety. Officers did clear the apartment where there did not appear to be any type of assault or criminal act. We did locate three children in the home which was consistent with the wife/mother's statement to me before went entered the residence.
Yes, you read that right: there were kids involved. The scariest part of the whole ordeal was that the couple's 2, 11, and 13-year-old children were still awake while they were streaming themselves playing. Obviously, everything was cleared up as there were was absolutely no illegal activity that had occurred in the home, just two parents unwinding by playing video games together. Still, imagine being a young child and experiencing something of this gravity.
Here's a video of a man being "swatted":
There's no excuse for this sort of behavior. Swatting needs to stop, and the FBI needs to do thorough investigations every time something of this nature happens.
Is swatting funny?