So a bit of bad news has just landed in the laps of Fortnite fans broke this week. Because Fortnite is an incredibly popular game, it has helped launch gaming and streaming careers for many, including one pro player. Professional Fortnite player – Jarvis Kaye, known as FaZe Jarvis and is a member of popular eSports outfit FaZe Clan. The popularity of the game has also attracted a ton of hackers and cheaters. But now, he has been completely banned from the game after being found to use an aimbot on an alternate account. Epic defended the banning in a statement to Polygon saying, “When people use aimbots or other cheat technologies to gain an unfair advantage, they ruin games for people who are playing fairly.”
Aim bots are a seriously game-breaking cheat, as they completely eliminate any sense of challenge or competitive spirit by replacing player movement with automated tracking scripts that identify and track player movement during a match. The use of such tools can be likened to botting in MMOs due to the amount of automation involved, as well as the serious damage it does to the enjoyment for other players. And even though everyone knows cheating will get you banned, Kaye says the idea of getting banned “didn’t even cross [his] mind.”
Epic has done the right thing here, issuing a permanent ban for the use of the cheating tool against the player. Jarvis used the aimbot in a casual Solos match, which is clearly against the spirit of the game. Whether he used it in tournament play or not should not matter.
This isn’t the first bit of controversy to strike Fortnite though, not even in just recent memory. Behavioral problems and gaming are becoming an increasingly relevant topic, even though the link is disputed, there’s a lot of pressure on Epic to deal with cheating and other problems in their game. This pressure has clearly led to Epic wanting to crack down and send a very clear message to cheaters by fiercely punishing a visible example.
Mega-streamer Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins weighed in as well. In speaking on the topic Ninja argued that the ban was too harsh, something many people agree with. But of course, his argument for why the punishment should be commuted is from a weird position, one born out of an idea that those in positions of power shouldn’t suffer the same consequences as others, I’m not kidding.
“He’s still super young, so I think he’s just a stupid kid making a stupid decision, and didn’t really think about it,” argued the millionaire mega-star, “It wasn’t a tournament, wasn’t a Cash Cup, it should be maybe a six-month ban from competitive. Permanent though?”
“There’s a difference between a content creator who has millions of subscribers, who then gets banned from what makes him money, and some kid who is just a piece of shit who has zero followings, zero money from gaming,” the popular streamer said, “You ban that kid, nothing happens. You ban Jarvis, the stakes are different, it should be handled differently… let’s stop acting like there’s no favouritism in the world, there is.”
I vehemently disagree with Ninja and the precedent he’s arguing for here. What message does it send about money and power if we allow cheating because the cheaters make money from their hobby. Just because one makes money from something shouldn’t give them unfair treatment over others. And the idea that Jarvis is just a dumb kid is immediately undermined by the fact that you’re arguing for him to be treated differently in your hypothetical.
Privilege can and should be held to a higher standard, as it grants authority, Ninja even admits this relationship between power and money exists. His argument makes an appeal to the idea by painting streamers and content creators as important to the health of the game. I wonder if his tune would be different if considered from the direction of people who take this as a sign to keep cheating if they happen to have a following. Do the people who get their games ruined by cheaters not matter when it comes to the true gods among men that are STREAMERS? Did Ninja actually listen to himself talk?
And when you’re arguing for those with privilege to not suffer similar consequences, you’re firmly inserting your head into the sand. Relevant commentary about the state of politics and the obvious relationship between money and power under Capitalism can be made here. Do we not want to change that? Do we really want to teach millions of people that it’s OK to break rules if you can make money doing it? We already see enough of that when corporations face no substantial consequences for annihilating the environment. How can anyone expect future generations to understand why that’s not OK when we barely punish minor offenses like cheating in games.
Jarvis at least acknowledged the mistake in an apology video, but it seems pretty likely that public pressure will commute his sentence, as fans flock to defend the cheater and Ninja’s moronic defense of favoritism, and don’t learn any real lesson in the process.