In the U.S., 12-year-old Peter “Rolly Ranchers” Varady is just like any other aspiring gamer working to make a name for themselves on platforms such as Youtube and Twitch, live-streaming their gameplay and interacting with their viewers.
One day, Varady struck gold when he was paired up with famous Youtuber Cizzorz while streaming a duos match in Fornite on YouTube. After playing for a while, Cizzorz encouraged his viewers to follow Varady's stream. This lead to a surge from 1,000 to 80,000 subscribers to Varady's Youtube channel, in a span of 24 hours. There are 123K subscribers now as of this writing.
“I don’t deserve it,” Varady said, repeatedly.
“Yeah you do,” Cizzorz replied. “You put in the hours. You grind. Before and after school. You gotta keep it up, man.”
It was amazing to see a prominent YouTuber helping out, giving encouragement to keep with the consistency. But things took a sudden turn for the worse during one of Varady’s streams. Police arrived at his home after someone called 911 with a report that Varady and his mother were planning to hang themselves.
Varady had been swatted.
Swatting is a common prank done to streamers by fellow streamers or followers in which a fake crime or incident is reported to the authorities, giving them probable cause to enter and search the streamer’s home. The embarassment and invasion of privacy caused by swatting can cause emotional trauma, but in some instances of the prank, can yield fatal results. Last year, a a 28-year-old from Wichita, Kansas was shot and killed following a swatting prank.
In a follow-up interview with ABC7, Varady said "It was probably the scariest moment of my life.". Varady said he saw comments warning him of the incoming swatting but thought it was simply a joke.
Cizzorz found out what happened to the young YouTuber. His reaction on Twitter read: "In 24 Hours we helped a kid go from 400 subscribers on YouTube to over 87,000...I was just told that someone Swatted him tonight on his livestream. I feel so awful. There are some terrible ppl in this world. The kid is only 12 years old. I hope whoever did it, rots in a cell."
Varady was pretty shaken up by the incident but plans to continue streaming and working on his channel. Many young content creators with aspirations of fame and celebrity on YouTube and Twitch are simply doing what they love. I hope companies and platform holders can do more to ensure a safe environment in which kids like Varady can grow a following and do what they love.