Wednesday, August 27, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Last week, I reacted to Phil Fish’s sale of Fez and Polytron after him and his company’s personal information was reportedly compromised and exposed. Sitting at the apex of online abuse, by either the dark magic propagated by the full moon, or – more realistically – the sensational nature of internet attacks, this was followed by a series of incidents, two of which occurred this week.

Playstation gamers were victimized yet again, though not nearly to the degree of the blackout of 2011, after hacker group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility of taking PSN down a day before its scheduled maintenance last weekend and also sending a bomb threat to SOE president John Smeldey, causing his flight to be diverted for security reasons. Lizard Squad also reportedly targeted Blizzard and Xbox Live.

But wait, there’s more.

If you’re unfamiliar of the douche baggery of SWATing, it’s the ill-advised act of when one makes an anonymous prank call to 911 and issues a false report of an individual terrorizing their community. The SWAT team is then dispatched to the alleged terrorizer, kicking down their door with guns drawn. This crime is typically committed in multiplayer games such as Counter Strike and Call of Duty. Word to the wise, since stating “DON’T FUCKING SWAT” will fall on deaf ears, if you hear someone threatening to SWAT you in an online match, remove yourself from the game immediately and be sure that you react safely if god forbid the SWAT team does come knocking on your door. It’s a difficult problem to work around since people would think that making idle threats is funny, but it’s one of the best precautions to take for such a new form of online abuse.

For a more detailed overview of SWATing, watch the video below:

Today Jordan Mathewson, AKA Kootra of The Creatures, was SWATed during a game of Counter Strike after false reports indicated that there was an active shooter on the loose with multiple victims. You can catch the entire SWATing incident in the video below:

I cannot stress how incredibly dangerous SWATing actually is, not to mention how expensive it can be as indicated in the VICE video above. SWATing pulls resources from other potential real threats to the community, and if an incident were to happen where a startled SWATing victim reacted in a way that would be perceived as a threat when the SWAT team kicks down their door… congratulations asshole, you are now directly responsible for the cost of someone’s life.

This week, Anita Sarkeesian directed yet another excellent issue of the Feminist Frequency video series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games. This time, she discusses the grotesque incidental decoration of sexualized and victimized female NPC violence as a “cheap” way to raise the grungy and distressing nature of their harsh and often “red-light-district” worlds. She draws the contrast between these women and the lack of portrayal of sexual context for male victims, though I would also argue that there’s a lack of non-sexualized context for female victims.

Sarkeesian is no stranger to online abuse since critiquing many beloved video games and their gender misrepresentation. But in efforts to shed light on just how BAD the abuse can get towards her, she presented these heinous threats that were tweeded to her which had forced her to remove herself from her home in fear of her safety:

“I’m going to go to your apartment at [REDACTED] and rape you to death. After I’m done, I’ll ram a tire iron up your cunt.”

Good fucking lord.

In retrospect, I’ll ask this: why you mad bro? Mad cause someone kicked your ass in Counter Strike? Mad cause a feminist provided sociological critique into some of your favorite video games? Mad cause you just like to shit all over online systems in search of some form of relevance or purpose?

If falsifying police reports, threatening rape, issuing bomb threats, and compromising businesses isn’t socially, lawfully, or morally acceptable, than cowarding behind the anonymous and boundless access nature of the internet doesn’t change a damn thing.

I’m so disappointed in you, internet.

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