Anyone who has played a game online in the last decade will attest that there are plenty of moments in which normal trash talk turns to racial slurs and threats of violence.
One MMORPG player was consistently affronted by threats of rape and murder, and even when she brought the problem to the game's CEO, he banned her saying he was "tired of hearing about this problem," reports The Guardian. (MMORPG stands for "massively multiplayer online role-playing game.")
When reporting the issue to game administrators yields nothing but frustration, here are three steps MMORPG players can potentially take when confronted with violent threats:
1. Call the Police.
This may seem like a simplistic answer, but law enforcement, even at a local level, take online threats to rape or kill very seriously, even when not directed at a specific person.
The player who is threatening you may be in an entirely different country, but that may not matter. As seen in a recent case, it didn't stop 18-year-old Justin Carter of Texas from being reported by a Canadian woman for his "joking" threats that stemmed from the online game "League of Legends."
Carter is currently charged in Texas criminal court for making terroristic threats. So know that police in your area can just as easily share information with other jurisdictions to make sure threats against you are taken seriously.
2. Don't Engage Your Attacker.
It may seem tempting to respond to online threats by firing back with some violent-sounding salvos of your own, but the potential payoff is not worth the risk.
Case in point: A Northern California gamer, Kevin Kemp, got into a heated argument over Xbox Live with another player, and in response to a violent threat told the player to "come over to [his] house" to settle things.
Kemp did not expect the player to actually bust into his house and stab him 22 times. The lesson here: Don't give your attacker a reason to call your bluff.
3. Obtain a Restraining Order.
Even if the threat does not constitute a criminal offense, you can request a restraining order from your local court to stop that person from contacting you, even online.
Courts do not take casual threats lightly, even when they're on Twitter, and a record of a MMORPG player harassing or threatening you with violence may be sufficient for a court to grant a restraining order against your online attacker.
A semi-anonymous threat of violence volleyed between virtual shooting matches online is still a violent threat, and responsible players should not feel powerless if they avail themselves of their legal options.
- Video Game Stabbing: 2 Stabbed After Smack Talk (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Ohio Rape Victim Threatened Online; 2 Girls Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Maryland Student Arrested for Shooting Threats (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Ask a Question About Criminal Law in Our Community Forum (FindLaw Answers)