As a gamer, I’ve been involved in the world of online gaming for quite some time now. In that time, I’ve experienced my fair share of negativity directed my way by my fellow online gamers. Now, I know all too well that the realm of online gaming (especially Xbox Live) has long been a festering cesspool of ignorance, bigotry, idiocy and cruelty but every now and then, I’ll experience something personally or have something brought to my attention that really irks me. This is the latter scenario. Just take a look at the video posted below for a few minutes. That should be more than enough to make you sick to your stomach.
Apparently, a group of gamers decided to play a practical joke on a seven year old gamer during a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 over Xbox Live by telling him that they were going to report him for having a modded controller and “glitching the game” when apparently, he had done neither and had only said some things which riled up the gamers. The seven year old was reduced to tears at several points during the nearly ten minute long video and still, the gamers persisted with their teasing, even going as far as performing faked calls to Microsoft and allowing him to hear them as they made it sound as if they were talking with Microsoft customer service representatives and reported him for his supposed bad behavior, leading him to believe that he was going to be suspended or banned from Xbox Live.
Now I enjoy jokes as much as the next guy. I can even enjoy them when they’re made at my expense, depending on the severity of the joke but no matter what, there’s always a limit. At some point, even the funniest practical jokes are no longer funny. In this case, the joke was never funny to begin with; it’s just wrong on every conceivable level.
I’m not sure what the kid did or said to deserve the kind of cruel joke that was played on him but I am sure that it was not worth it. Some people have argued that he shouldn’t have been playing the game anyway since he was so young and the game in question is rated “M” (that was even included in the video description as some form of justification) but does that make this right? Was the fact that it was apparently an April Fools’ Day “joke” make it better? No. A group of older people (most likely teens and young adults) ganging up on and tormenting a seven year old child with the threat of having his account suspended or banned is not my idea of funny and I honestly don’t know what kind of person would enjoy such a thing.
Oh wait, yes I do. I’ve dealt with those kinds of people all my life. These immature people usually travel in packs and revel in the act of making someone else’s life miserable in any way they can. They’re called bullies. On Xbox Live (and the internet in general), these bullies, also known as internet tough guys and e-thugs, are in abundance. One problem is the lack of accountability for these people that is afforded to them by the degree of anonymity the internet inherently provides to everyone who connects to it. The bigger problem here is that this kind of behavior is accepted. Similar to the way that no one seems to care that someone is being bullied or harassed in schools, no one cares that people are using Xbox Live or whatever online service they may choose as the conduit of their hate and taking out their frustrations on their opponents. Heck, just read through the comments on the video and you’ll see that people are actually siding with the teens and cheering them on for their behavior.
This is not acceptable by any means. I know full well that it’s practically impossible to hold someone accountable for their actions over the internet but even if we could, that would be curing the symptom, not the disease itself. People need to be held accountable outside of gaming as well. If this behavior is no longer tolerated offline, then it will no longer exist online I don’t know what kind of justification the people in this video could possibly come up with for doing what they did but I highly doubt it would be enough to change my opinion on this. Even if the kid had called them names before, you have to remember that he’s seven and probably doesn’t even understand what he’s saying! There is nothing that any child could say to me that would get me so riled up that I would get my buddies in on a practical joke to get back at him, whether he understood what he was saying or not. This was a truly despicable act and the people who did this should be ashamed of themselves. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all a bunch of cowards.