This past Saturday, the popular League of Legends-focused Twitch streamer Trick2g was putting on an elaborate 24-hour live event to commemorate the fact that he'd amassed 800,000 subscribers. He decided to end the stream with a bang: staging his own mock swatting. Come Monday morning, his account was banned.
Trick2g's Twitch channel is now offline, but you can watch the specific episode in this YouTube clip. The actual swatting starts around the three minute mark:
The clip shows Trick smoking out of a vaporizer and responding casually to commenters, when someone suddenly screams, "Police!" from the door behind him. Two men dressed as policemen then enter the room, one of them holding what looks like an assault rifle. Trick2g resists arrest, shouting, "You, what the fuck!" before hitting one of the policemen. The two cops then tackle him down the ground and hold him there for a moment before handcuffing him and walking him out of the scene.
These two men weren't actually policemen, and Trick2g wasn't actually being arrested. The dramatic finish to the stream was confirmed to be a joke in a post on Trick2g's website by his manager Cher Gambino, who called it "an extreme FAKE ending for an extremely entertaining Trick2G".
"Trick is an entertainer and that is just how it is, he streams 12-14 hours a day and brings constant laughter throughout each and every stream," Gambino wrote.
"'Now, I know some of you are saying…'Cher it is not funny to make a joke about being swatted,'" she continued. "There is always someone that thinks only their sense of humour is what matters and if they don't think it is funny then it couldn't possibly be. That is why our Country is in the shape it is now, because we fear making light of anything that might be thought of as controversial."
She ended with a statement saying that taking the ending of the stream seriously was "absurd":
To take that stream ending serious is absurd, Trick was laughing, the person used was NOT in disguise and was the same person who was on the stream all day yesterday setting up cameras and assisting the stream. The ending was scheduled for 3PM which again if thought process was used in any way, one would know that a swat team would not wait until the end of a stream to engage.
We don't have to always be politically correct to have a sense of humour and we don't have to hide the fact that we think something is funny simply because someone might not. We will not live in fear of our sense of humour but we will apologise to those who feel theirs is the only sense of humour to have. To those of you who enjoyed the theatrics throughout the 24 hour stream, we thank you. To those of you who were offended by the ending we apologise but together we thank you for supporting the stream and look forward to the 1 million follower 24 hour stream. I am thinking of a whale jumping out of the water to eat him and I will check first to see if this would offend anyone.
Trick, for his part, didn't say much about the stunt after it had been pulled other than to suggest it was a joke as well on his personal Twitter account -- tweeting a link to Akon's hit single "Locked Up" on Sunday:
— Trick2g (@Trick2g) August 2, 2015
...before following up with "kappa," a ubiquitous Twitch term used to acknowledge that you've just made a sarcastic joke:
— Trick2g (@Trick2g) August 2, 2015
Trick2g's account ban first went into effect on Monday morning, his manager told Kotaku over Skype today. Gambino said that while Twitch was told that the swatting was a joke "immediately," they still received a statement from the company saying his account had violated Twitch's terms of service. Many spectators online are saying that the ban is only for four months, but as of now, Gambino told me that they're "not sure" how long the ban is going to last. When asked about the decision to ban Trick's account, a representative from Twitch told Kotaku, "We don't comment on Terms of Service violations."
Trick2g is primarily known for his work streaming League of Legends, and some in the game's wide-ranging community recoiled in disgust upon learning about the fake swatting. The professional player Marcel Feldkamp called out the stunt and Gambino's ensuing justification of it for disrespecting a "traumatising" experience that others have actually gone through:
— Marcel Feldkamp (@MarcelFeldkamp) August 3, 2015
Talking to Gambino over Skype, the manager reiterated that she feels critics of the stream are being oversensitive. To her, the entire event was clearly supposed to be a piece of entertainment and not any sort of "political statement."
"If you saw the stream, there were theatrics the whole time," Cher told me over Skype. "We had sailor girls, prirate girls, singing bears, singing pigs, prize wheels. His stream was from 3PM Friday to 3PM Saturday. I can't imagine a swat team waiting for someone to finish a stream -- not to mention the actors were the same people on stream the day before setting up, not to mention they were laughing."
"I don't know what to tell you other than: if it offends one person it must be wrong," Gambino concluded. "We have lost the right to comedy. Or we have at least lost the right to comedy if it offends one person, which means Saturday Night Live must really have to watch what they do."
Regardless of how Trick2g's manager feels about the situation, it's not like the man is being universally condemned for his actions. Since news of his Twitch ban began to spread online this morning, many fans have been expressing their support on Twitter with the hashtag #freetrick. Here's a small slice of it:
When I asked Gambino if they're making any other plans to continue streaming on another service, she said: "We are working on the details of what we will be doing now."