As gamers, we're all familiar with the trash-talk one-upping that comes with playing online. But at what point will your macho language get you arrested? It may be a lot easier thank you think to annoy authorities, if the case of gamer Justin Carter is anything to go by. His lawyers have spoken out following his release on bail, believing that Carter's baffling accusation of making a "terroristic threat" may have been impeded by the poor public perception of gamers.
Carter's just left the prison on $50,000 bail. According to an in-depth report at Game Front , the six-month jail stint was "brutal," with 19-year-old Carter undergoing beatings from other inmates and stretches of time under suicide watch. He'd been reported to authorities back in February 2013 after getting caught up in a heated Facebook argument following a session of League of Legends. "I'm f—ed in the head alright," he was reported to have said by MSNBC . "I think I'ma shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them."
"Most of [Carter's] free time is spent online and I fear that law enforcement, or the state, is going to try to portray him as some sort of dark person, because he's playing these games," said defense attorney Donald Flanary in the Game Front interview, offering a possible explanation for why Carter's bail was set so high. "I fear they're going to say, well, because he does this, he's desensitized to violence." Flanary took on the case pro bono, as he believes that there's no research indicating that gamers are more violent because they play games.
It may have seemed like a mostly harmless comment in the moment, but Carter paid dearly—and he's still waiting on his trial. If he's convicted, he could face two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. Whether this is an overreaction on the authorities' part or not, it's worth being mindful that what you say online, even in the escapist haven of video games, could quite possibly come back to hurt you. And even if losing a hundred grand seems utterly unthinkable for some gentle ribbing amongst players, hey—the world of online gaming wouldn't be so bad with a little less trash talk, either.