When Does it Stop Becoming “Just a Game”?

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When Does it Stop Becoming “Just a Game”?

Bailey Atwood, Cpy and Design Editor

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Many people tend to enjoy their time playing video games, especially shooters. But how can a simple match of Call of Duty turn into a night of terror, especially if the man killed wasn’t playing the game?

Two people playing the aforementioned game: Shane Gaskill of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner of North College Hill, Ohio. Both of them wagered under $2 on a round of Call of Duty, when while the match was being played, Gaskill accidentally shot and killed his teammate Viner in-game. After the match, the two argued until Viner threatened to “SWATT” Gaskill, to which he replied, “Please try some s—.” Gaskill provided an address that did not belong to him, and Viner soon got into contact with known swatter Tyler Barriss.

“Swatting” is a form of harassment in which a harasser places a fake phone call to the authorities in the hopes of luring a heavy-handed response by law enforcement. Barriss got into contact with police and told them that there was a hostage situation involving the address that belonged to neither Gaskill nor Viner. Soon after, Wichita Police were dispatched to the location given, the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch.

When Finch stepped out on his front porch to see what was happening outside of his family’s home, he was promptly shot and killed. It wasn’t until after Finch was dead that police realized the allegations were false. Thankfully, due to Viner and Bariss’ not so private conversation, it was easy for police to find and prosecute Barriss for his actions. However, even though Barriss was responsible for the original call, Finch’s family blames the Wichita Police Department for shooting without making sure that Finch was actually committing a crime. The family has filed a lawsuit against the police department.

Since the incident, Kansas legislature has pushed to make swatting a more punishing offense than it currently is. Many Wichita gamers have also recently paid tribute to Finch by live-streaming a marathon of video games in his honor.  

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