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WTF?! Some people will do anything to go viral. A family has admitted it faked a video showing their six-year-old son being banned from Call of Duty: Warzone so the clip would get massive media attention, all part of a competition to get him into an esports organization.
As reported by PC Gamer, last week saw young streamer RowdyRogan apparently banned from Warzone, a move many assumed was due to his young age—CoD has an age rating of 18. It led to widespread outcry, a 'free Rogan' hashtag, and a lot of anger directed at Activision.
There are a few suspect moments in the video, though. Not only is there a break in the stream before the ban and some audio missing during the moment itself, but the dad's acting is far from convincing.
As some of you know, Rogan was banned from Warzone on stream tonight. The Team and us are currently trying to handle the situation and will keep you guys updated. Thank you for all the support. #FreeRogan pic.twitter.com/df1B28Fa8R— RowdyRogan (@RowdyRogan) December 10, 2020
It's now been revealed that the whole thing was fake; the "Account permanently banned" message was edited over a server disconnection message. It was all a stunt, part of the annual FaZe5 competition in which the final five entrants win a place within esports organization FaZe.
Rogan, who had reached the final 20 competitors, was faced with the challenge of making content that goes viral. In the video (below) revealing the fakery, his mother explains what they need to do, and Rogan suggests getting banned would be an effective way of drawing attention.
"This was a fun thing for Rogan to do, it was a whole family fun process, it wasn't serious," said Rogan's mother. Rogan's dad, meanwhile, chipped in with, "I know there are some people that aren't going to be happy when they find out this was a stunt for the FaZe5 challenge."
"I also don't want to bring any more negativity towards them, Activision has done nothing wrong," he adds.
It seems FaZe isn't too thrilled with the video. "This particular challenge was to create content that goes viral," CEO Lee Trink told PC Gamer. "What finalists choose to do with these tasks and how they approach each challenge is also being assessed, not just the quantitative results. A broad challenge is more emblematic of what their experience will be like in FaZe since a key goal of ours is to support our talent's vision of their individual career. The judging process is not mathematical. It's far more qualitative than quantitative. Our methodology and process is proprietary and not something we share."
Whatever the reasons behind the stunt, none of this shines a good light on the family. Ultimately, though, their mission to create a viral video succeeded, but it may come at a high cost.