November 20, 2019
Popular YouTube and Gaming Star Apologizes for Cheating
In many cases, PR crises or scandals happen due to accidents or otherwise unforeseen consequences. Sometimes, they are the result of clearly poor choices creating consequences people should have seen coming. While it doesn’t help to point fingers, it is instructive to review the response to those situations when the opportunity arises. Fortnite player and YouTube superstar FaZe Jarvis recently provided such an opportunity.
According to various media reports, Jarvis was caught “cheating” by using in-game aimbots, a strategy that allows players to automatically target opponents, thus “greatly increasing” shooting accuracy. The use of these bots is strictly prohibited in bigtime competition, so Jarvis was forced to face the music after receiving a very public lifetime ban by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite.
Jarvis took to YouTube to apologize for using the aimbots, in the process, admitting the allegation that earned him the ban. In the video, Jarvis apologized both to Epic Games and to his fans. He said: “It’s obvious that I made a massive mistake. And, of course, I would never think about doing anything like this again… You know, when I was making those videos, I never thought about the consequences that could happen from me making those videos. I just thought about entertaining you guys.”
While aimbots are a known factor, and Jarvis had published videos openly using them in past sessions, Epic has a zero-tolerance policy for the practice, which the company laid out in its terms of service. The company addressed this in a message, before adding: “When people use aimbots or other cheat technologies to gain an unfair advantage, they ruin games for people who are playing fairly.”
To date, the permanent ban is one of the harshest penalties handed down by Epic Games for transgressing the company’s rules for player participation. In previous incidents, other games received temporary bans for other forms of cheating. So, one could argue that it would have been difficult for Jarvis to consider the consequences of his actions, given that some penalties for other players only amounted to a few weeks.
Then again, that’s also the lesson here: not knowing the consequences of a choice is not an adequate reason to not think about the potential consequences of that choice. That might seem pretty basic advice; but, time and again, the same mistakes are being made, leading to similar PR crises. This trend happens over and over, across many different markets. People with a public stake in a brand’s health make decisions without considering the consequences, and they seem surprised when those decisions come back on them.
The lesson? Every decision has potential and actual consequences. Plan your decisions and your response accordingly.