When you’re lacking an idea to make a creative video or story go viral, remember you can always fall back on the old standby of making others look dumb. That turns out to be the case with the RowdyRogan Call of Duty: Warzone ban reported earlier this week. While speculation for Activision’s supposed ban of the six-year-old Warzone player ranged from age concerns to the potential impact of COPPA concerns, it all ended up being a total scam on behalf of helping RowdyRogan score big in the FaZe recruitment challenge, where Rogan had recently made the Top 20 cut.
Finalists were tasked with making a video/story go viral to make the next round of cuts and as the video above depicts, Rogan and his parents decided to go the route of seeing a child (fake) cry by faking the banning of his account. The video depicts the entire process and tries to leave the impression that the banning idea was Rogan’s, but it’s uncertain if the idea actually started with the youngster, with most pinning the idea on Rogan’s parents who then presented it as Rogan’s idea.
The news has been met, predictably, with mixed reactions. Fans following the story have had reactions ranging from the “wow, good prank, totally got me” variety to outright anger at being played and having the perceived emotions of a six-year-old used to manipulate an audience. The last three minutes of the 12-minute video are spent by Rogan’s parents trying to rationalize the stunt as a way to get younger gamers into the scene, get Rogan to “where he wants to be,” and to apologize to fans that may be angry they were manipulated, as well as apologizing to Activision for the negativity they had faced as a direct result of the “banning.”
Will it pay off? Maybe in the short term, but things like this have a way of cutting in both directions. People don’t like being played for the fool, and they certainly don’t like having their emotions manipulated and showing support for someone, only to find out their support was used as a joke and counted as a click. The next time the young “prodigy” comes up in the news will likely result in far less coverage in any meaningful way, since trust was burned this time around.
As a personal aside, I gave Rogan’s parents quite the benefit of the doubt on the latest Free to Play Cast when it came to them raising their children as they see fit; however, most of that benefit of the doubt from me is gone now. Showing your child how to manipulate your fans and followers like this usually doesn’t end well long term, and maybe attracting Activision’s attention to a potential issue with young children playing games like Warzone won’t end well. They’ll enjoy the clicks they get today, but stunts like this could cause that click count to be much harder to get in the future.