45 year old Michael Aliperti of Huntington, New York has been arrested for threatening the life of an 11 year old boy that he reportedly lost a Fortnite match to. The older man sent the child both voice and text messages over XBOX Live after the match, using a feature of the service to see what players were in the current game. The content and exact nature of the messages was not reported, nor was his reason for choosing his victim out of the other 98 players involved in the match. Presumably, the 11 year old boy was the one to defeat his avatar and end his game, or otherwise directly thwarted Aliperti's bid for victory. He is being charged with second degree aggravated harassment, along with acting in a manner to injure a child.
Many online gaming services allow players to contact one another on the service, outside of the direct context of the game. While this can be a wonderful way to make new friends in online games, the trouble comes when one party or the other has malicious intent. Many such systems do not have adequate systems in place to stop an incident like this from happening due to either the nature of the service, allowing open communication between players, or a lack of sufficient age and identity verification to stop such incidents. While online services that offer adult content outright or deal with money or other extremely sensitive data often have verification methods such as requiring a user to scan their government-issued ID, gaming services often do not.
For those who may not know, Fortnite is currently one of the most popular video games around. It consists of many modes, with its main draw being a battle royale mode that drops 100 players onto an island where they can scrounge for materials and weapons, build fortresses and employ any tactics they can to be the last one standing. Naturally, this can involve some underhanded tactics, slick moves and other maneuvers that can be frustrating to unsuspecting or less skilled players. Any gamer can tell you that their pasttime can be a frustrating one, but confirmed cases of a grown adult directly threatening and harassing a child like what happened here are decidedly, and thankfully, rare.