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Sacramento gamer could be jailed for up to five years for violent online threats

If you find yourself doing this on a regular basis, please get help.
If you find yourself doing this on a regular basis, please get help.

A Sacramento video game enthusiast was arrested earlier this month after allegedly making violent threats against employees of game company Blizzard Entertainment, as well as fellow gamers and, in a lovely final touch, their children, Polygon reports.

Stephen Cebula is currently being held without bond, and could face up to five years in prison if convicted of making the threats.

As Polygon notes, Cebula’s alleged threats to fellow players of Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm included:

“I will bomb the new york twin towers [sic],” “Go back to cotton picking” and “You make me want to shoot up an elementary school;” Cebula also threatened to rape and kill the children of his opponents.

After Blizzard banned him from chatting with other players, he allegedly sent the company a message warning that if the company continued

silencing me in Heroes of the Storm … I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools.

Polygon adds,

This is not Cebula’s first run-in with the law. In March 2015, he was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department after telling deputies of his intention to kill someone at a local park, according to the court documents. As a minor, he was also charged with threatening a school staff member.

It’s good to see the FBI and local police taking online threats as seriously as threats delivered offline. Because here’s the thing:

  1. A threat is a threat if you make it to someone’s face
  2. A threat is a threat if you send it by mail
  3. A threat is a threat if you make it over the phone
  4. A threat is a threat if you write it in icing on a cake
  5. A threat is a threat if you make it on the internet
  6. A threat is a threat even if some dude on the internet tells you it’s just a joke

The internet: Part of real life even if some people would like to pretend it isn’t.

H/T — r/GamerGhazi

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EJ (The Other One)
4 years ago

Back in the day I used to play Guns of Icarus Online with an invite-only group. It was really reassuring to see how many anons suddenly “decloaked” as women once they didn’t have to deal with crap from random players any more.

Nowadays I’ve tried to get the same thing going with Stellaris, but with less success.

makroth
makroth
4 years ago

This is good news to me. I hope this sets a precedent. Make the internet mobs think twice before attacking. If it reduces mob rule, it’s fine with me.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

Something similar to this has happened over here. Axe and I were having a bit of a chat about it in the ‘Milo’s goons’ thread.

Shalimar
Shalimar
4 years ago

@Axecalibur
Hillary Clinton was already running for Senator by this point in 2000. She and Bill had bought a house in New York before he was even out of office so she would be eligible there.

Michelle Obama has stated repeatedly that she has no interest in elected office. General speculation is that she hates politics and is only involved to support Barack. She is damned good at it though. I would vote for her over just about anyone else I can think of, including Hillary.

banned@4chan.org
banned@4chan.org
4 years ago

The few times I play multiplayer games (4chan user doesn’t often game socially; surprise much?) I use third-party tools like Skype to communicate with fellow players, who are mostly the few online friends I’ve bothered establishing an identity with.

My one absolute favorite online game has rudimentary social functionality anyway, and that functionality has actually been reduced with time (voice chat was removed in 2013, and outside of the game’s central hubs you can only use canned phrases instead of having access to the keyboard). So if I don’t personally know another player and exchange usernames on another platform, we play in near-silence. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a deliberate decision to avoid a tide of “fuck you,” various slurs, and death threats.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

With these online games, do you have to play with random people or can you arrange it so you’re only playing with people you know?

banned@4chan.org
banned@4chan.org
4 years ago

@Alan

Usually depends on the game. For example, each “round” in Overwatch requires either exactly six or exactly twelve humans. You can group up with friends, but unless you know and can coordinate with five other people (for one team of humans versus one team of AI) or eleven other people (for two human teams), you’ll absolutely end up playing with strangers. Most MMOs however, will allow a group of varying size to tackle a dungeon, meaning you can go alone, with one or more friends, or in a mixed group.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ banned

Ta. So if you’re in a game that requires a set number of players do you essentially just log on and then when there’s 6 or 12 people ready the game starts?

(Funnily enough the flights to the Isles of Scilly work like that. “Excuse me, when does this flight take off”; “When there’s at least 10 of you”)

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
4 years ago

@Alan : yes. A lot of games work like that nowaday. The popular one, like Overwatch, have so many player you never wait for long. In WoW however it can be 30ish minutes (during which you can have other activity in game, thankfully) due to the need of having specific roles filled.

varalys the dark
4 years ago

I was fairly lucky in the four years I played WoW. Our server was about one third UK, German and Scandinavian and for some reason seemed less toxic in general chat than the US forums seemed to indicate their’s were. Also I lucked into a guild that banned under 18’s from joining. Harsh, and there was still Guild Drama despite that, but most people were pretty chill and I even made friends and met up in meatspace with a couple of players. I was never patronised, pandered to, or insulted for being a woman. When we raided we used a voice program called TeamSpeak, although a lot of the time we’d just stay logged in and chat when we were all playing at some godawful hour and wanted some company. I quit WoW in 2008 as I felt I had done all I wanted to do in the game but it remains a time of good friends and happy memories.

I moved onto the Xbox 360 in 2009, and it hasn’t been until this year that I could access Xbox LIVE, I intend to own a Xbone by the end of the year, so we shall see how my online experience matches up with my time in WoW (And the Dreamcast version of Phantasy Star Online before that). I’ve got a feeling I’m going to have to pick my games carefully although to be honest I’d rather be playing Co-Op modes than Versus….

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ ohlmann

I got the impression the Icelandic football team worked like that.

“OK, hands up in the crowd if you have a pair of shorts with you”

(After the England defeat one of the commentators rubbed it in by pointing out Iceland has more active volcanoes than professional football players 🙂 )

Eyes on the Right
4 years ago

Meanwhile Jessica Valenti was hounded off social media after someone directed a rape threat at her five-year-old. What the actual fuck is wrong with people?

NickNameNick
NickNameNick
4 years ago

@Eyes on the Right:

Meanwhile Jessica Valenti was hounded off social media after someone directed a rape threat at her five-year-old. What the actual fuck is wrong with people?

A lot. A whole hell of a lot.

As far as gaming socially: I rarely due so because, honestly, I prefer most single-player experiences and the few times I do engage in multiplayer are in games like Dark Souls. Outside of those game, my experiences with other players have been…really unpleasant.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@Shalimar

General speculation is that she hates politics and is only involved to support Barack

Fair enough

I would vote for her over just about anyone else I can think of, including Hillary

Depends on the job…

Anyway, just got around to watching Biden’s speech, and, holy shit, he spits the hottest possible fire!
“Think about everything you learned as a child. How can there be any pleasure in saying ‘you’re fired’?”

Joekster
Joekster
4 years ago

Starcraft has always had the option to create password protected private games. WoW you’re playing with everyone on the server, but you can join a guild, and you choose who is in your party (my wife and I occasionally play as a dwarf or troll party).

Don’t know about other games.

pitshade
pitshade
4 years ago

I used to play the Nevewinter MMO and zone chat was terrible. The first thing I’d do with a new character out of the tutorial was to turn it off. If you weren’t part of a good guild or custom chat channel, it was like drowning in filth and bile. If you joined random parties, be prepared to get kicked out for not cheating or just to stop you from getting a share of the loot. Just like the Internet in general, you have to live in a bubble just to maintain any kind of decency.

EJ (The Other One)
4 years ago

@Axecalibur:
Biden and Kaine both really pulled the knives out, didn’t they? It was strange to hear given their gentle, benevolent public personae.

Loquora
Loquora
4 years ago

@Hippielady and @Eyes on the right:

I wanted to share that story as well because for every step forward we get (like someone actually being prosecuted for threats they’ve made) it seems like we take two steps back (like what happened to poor Jessica Valenti).

ViolinlessHoax
ViolinlessHoax
4 years ago

I wish I could find a good MMO again and really be part of a guild with new friends and have good times like how it was back when I played Guild Wars 2. But 1) no present day MMO really speaks to me and 2) you really need to luck out on finding a guild that “plays nice”.

… Anyone have a guild I can join?

😀

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@EJ

Biden and Kaine both really pulled the knives out, didn’t they? It was strange to hear given their gentle, benevolent public personae

Well, someone had to. The President and Lady couldn’t dirty their hands too much, or so conventional wisdom states. Biden’s their attack dog and Kaine barely matters. They can cut the promos and take the ‘they are just soooo mean’ comments from Fox or whoevs without significantly hurting the party or Hillary. It’s kinda ingenious *mwahaha*

Kootiepatra
4 years ago

Re: online multiplayer –

The only game I play at the moment is Overwatch, which is definitely most fun while teamed up with people I know (even getting two or three on a single team on voice chat helps). 5 vs. 5 is possible in a custom game, but you do have to fill all those slots through direct invites.

I live in the US, but most of my online gaming buddies are in the UK–and ping be dratted, I am pretty much only playing on the EU servers when I do play with randoms, because the chat is substantially less toxic there than it is on the US. And I never, ever use my mic unless I’m teamed with people I already know and trust.

Ooglyboggles
4 years ago

Oh boy, if any of you played Dota 2, you’d know exactly why the term “toxic fanbase” is a endemic problem, especially in the MOBA community. To summarize, this game demands all players to actually be good in all aspects of the game, right down to the match ups. If you don’t have a four other people, you’re going to have a very bad time. You will rarely find the people who will joke around and talk on the mic or even talk at all, some players will just speak in another language and won’t even acknowledge you’re there, a bunch of casual racism on top and so forth.

Strangely enough I never seen outward sexism in Dota 2, even in the rare instances where there is a girl playing, and is speaking on the mic so you know who’s speaking, no one said anything horrid to them. Though I’m absolutely sure that my experience is in the vast minority.

Sascha Vykos
Sascha Vykos
4 years ago

Oogly, the worst things happen in whispers.

It’s just like everywhere else. You maybe won’t see the worst stuff if you aren’t the recipient.

That said, most people are not that bad, so fuck (for example)KotukoInAction. Other people besides them play games, and most of them are smart enough to know an asshole when they see one. Very few of them need to harass others to make a point.

I’ve never gotten a complaint for booting a racist or sexist asshole from group or guild.

Mostly I just hear “thanks”.