If you haven't been living under a rock, you've probably heard about "Jessi Slaughter", a.k.a. "Kerligirl13", and her controversial attention-seeking videos on Youtube and other video sharing sites. Now, it's nothing new for kids to act like fools on Youtube. But Jessie took her videos just a bit too far, and the Internet struck back.
After becoming something of an internet meme for posting threats like "I'll pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushie" she aroused the unstoppable ire of /b/, which began a campaign of trolling her videos. And so it began, with /b/ posting her personal information, and bombing search engine results to make things like "Did Jessi Slaughter's dad give her PCP?" a trending topic. You know, the usual stuff.
The interesting thing here is not really Jessi Slaughter's story. She's just a flash-in-the-pan attention-seeker, like many before her and many after her. The interesting thing is the level of public attention that the story has gotten and how it has the potential to affect online gaming. Let’s be honest, who among us hasn't had to listen to some foul mouthed 11-year old's verbal tirade on Xbox Live, even for the few seconds it takes to mute them.
While Jessi's behavior may be new and shocking to non-gamers, it's pretty much the same old trolling that gamers have been dealing with since the first Halo games. Cyberbullying expert Parry Aftab went on Good Morning America to discuss the videos and offered some tips for how parents could prevent this kind of behavior -- namely teaching kids and parents to stop responding, take a few minutes for a breather, block the persons involved, tell their parents and if there are serious threats, report them to the authorities (Ed. though Aftab herself was apparently bullied into cancelling a follow up appearance on GMA).
So is this a chance for the games industry to teach a positive lesson to non-gaming society? We've previously covered Aftab’s GDC lecture on how games can help prevent violence and cyberbullying. Such a game seems like it would have been absolutely appropriate for this misguided young girl to play (and probably her father as well) and could have prevented this whole debacle. Instead, we get things like 11-year old emo tweens pretending to be gangstas and people murdering each other over Facebook feuds.
Another wasted opportunity for change.
Dan Rosenthal is lawyer and analyst for the video games industry