Within streaming and gaming ‘swatting’ is largely regarded as the ultimate hoax. Since the infamous 2017 case of Tyler Barris, US states have attempted to stamp out the practice for good – though instances are still occurring in 2022.
The gaming community can feel pretty toxic at times.
If you’ve played competitive multiplayer games for any significant period of time, you’ll almost certainly have received threatening messages from disgruntled opponents.
The levels of saltiness can range anywhere from, ‘I know your IP address and your account will be hacked,’ to empty promises of physical violence the next time you’re out and about.
In the real world, such exchanges would rightly be considered way out of line, but in the digital realm of PVP it’s simply become par for the course. Take it from someone whose Xbox account dates all the way back to 2008, my inbox makes for grim viewing.
Even these excessive levels of debauchery (accumulated over 12 separate Call of Duty titles, by the way) in no way compare to the most extreme form of retaliation within gaming: a practice known as ‘swatting.’
What even is swatting?
First gaining real notoriety around the year 2017, the term rapidly entered the zeitgeist with ties to extreme hoaxers in the gaming community.
The actual act of swatting involves putting a prank call in to the police, falsely claiming that serious criminal activity – for example bomb threats, murder, or hostage hold ups – is taking place at someone else’s address.
The ultimate goal, as the name suggests, is to prompt SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams or police units to swarm the victim’s property and give them a scare. Yeh, it’s utterly messed up and definitely qualifies as harassment (minimum).
If you search on YouTube now, you’ll see endless videos from recent years of livestreams being interrupted by police raids where someone presumably in the chat or just viewing has set them up.
Prolific gamers like Tfue, DrLupo, and Fornite champ Bugha have suffered numerous instances of these pranks, and the terms ‘swat’ and ‘swatting’ are now typically blacklisted within popular gaming broadcasts.
A slew of A-list celebs including P. Diddy, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber, and Snoop Dogg have also reported instances of such fraud, though the ritual doesn’t necessarily have to be specific to one target.
Several elusive social media ‘personas’ have clout-chased over the years, using Twitter to take credit for evacuating entire government buildings, schools, and recreational events through swatting.