Toxic behavior has been found in online games since they rose to popularity in the mid-to-late nineties. But the punishment for internet threats now brings harsher consequences, as one Californian man who is looking at five years in prison for his actions recently found out.
The 28-year-old Heroes of the Storm player, Stephen Cebula, is facing federal charges after he threatened to bring an AK-47 to Blizzard Entertainment’s headquarters.
Sacramento resident Cebula, who was in the Silver bracket of Hots’ ranked ladder leagues, had been handed a chat ban for the messages he’d sent to other players. These included racial slurs, a promise to “bomb the new york twin towers,” and threats to murder and rape other players’ family members. He also talked about a planned attack on Disneyland.
The chat ban Blizzard imposed on Cebula incensed him even more. He looked up the company’s HQ address and posted the following message on the game developer’s Facebook page: "Careful Blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California … You keep silencing me in Heroes of the Storm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK 47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools.”
Following its own investigations, Blizzard reported the incidents to the FBI and the agency arrested Cebula on July 12. The Bureau discovered his address using details from his ISP based on the IP address provided by Blizzard. They also carried out surveillance on his residence before taking Cebula into custody.
According to court documents, Cebula admitted upon his arrest that the messages were to “scare those whom he had threatened." In an interview with FBI Special Agent Brady Cowan, Cebula also confessed to having sexual fantasies involving his five-year-old niece.
Cebula is now being held without bail due to his “significant” mental health issues. In addition to facing the “maximum statutory penalty” of five years jail time, he could also be fined $250,000, according to a press release.