Posted Friday November 6, 2009 10 p.m.
Racial epithets, homophobic slurs and tons of four letter words. If you've played a game online odds are you've probably been taunted or at least felt a little uncomfortable.
But that's just one of the dangers of playing online.
Trevor Lucas' trip to Wisconsin started almost a year ago. Not on the road, but here on the computer.
According to police,Lucas, who lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts met a Madison teen playing World of War Craft online.
Lucas allegedly asked the teen for nude photos. When he was told no Lucas got angry and started making threats...telling the boy he was going to come to Madison and hurt him.
" The gentleman pulled up in front of our house and we didn't know who he was."
Kathy Whalen is the teen's mom. Her son didn't want to go on camera.
But, she was home when Lucas decided to make good on his promise.
When she answered the door Lucas told her he was with the National Security Recruiting Service and needed to speak with her son.
Whalen asked for ID. Lucas went to his car, but when he came back he allegedly didn't have his ID. He had a gun.
Whalen says, " I just wanted to protect my family and myself and I didn't really know what was going on. But I knew whatever it was it wasn't good."
Whalen screamed and slammed the door. Lucas drove off and headed back to Massachusetts.
Whalen considers herself lucky. Especially after finding out what else Lucas had in his car and at his home.
Lieutenant Thomas Williams with the Gloucester Police Department says, "Including handcuffs, tie wraps, mase, tasers, duct tape, gloves."
The Lieutenant adds, "That's the cave that the bag containing the ammo and one of the assault riffles was in."
That is an extreme case. But it is an example of gaming gone wrong. More commonly people who game online are taunted by their competition and exposed to what some may consider offensive language.
" They throw out racial epithets, they throw out sexist and homophobic terms and they don't really understand what they're saying all the time."
At Caleb Goessling's place it's game night. About a dozen of his closest friends cram into his apartment to play games on one of his many video game consoles.
Rock band and the fighting game Soul Caliber are among the favorites. Most of the people at the party are well versed with online game play etiquette...or lack there of.
" The younger crowd will be the more vociferous and annoying and the more offensive surprisingly."
Sean Course plays Halo 3, a game for the X-box 360, almost exclusively online.
It's while playing this first person shooter that he experiences the foul language.
Users playing titles that have been given a mature rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB typically use more vulgar language.
While other games that aren't rated mature are normally pretty tame.
Course says, "I don't get angry...as angry when like someone my age is bad mouthing me. But when I hear a kid doing it...are their parents playing with them or do they just not care."
Andrew Dohr is a video game tester with Raven Software in Middleton. He spends about twenty hours a week making sure every aspect of the games his company releases works.
Recently, the focus has shifted to online gaming.
" It's been a focus pretty much since the launch of the X-box 360 and their Live service has really pushed online gaming to the fore front."
There are a couple of reasons companies are pushing online gaming.
One, gamers want it. Two, it extends the life of the game and makes it more profitable.
Dohr says, " If you're not putting a multiplayer component in your game especially like a networked multiplayer component--you're basically leaving money on the table."
With online gaming becoming more prevalent and really dominating the gaming market, Dohr says parents need to be more diligent when it comes to watching what their kids play online.
Course says, " When I have kids, being a gamer, I feel like I have the perspective to teach them how to behave not just in society but in online society."
Whalen says, " It's a whole new world for all of us. We didn't have this when I was growing up. We didn't have the Internet," she adds, " They need to keep an eye on their kids...know what they're playing."
According to a recent survey, from 2008 to now the percentage of gamers playing online grew from 19% to 25%.
The number of teens playing online went up five points from 17% to 22%.