|←||SVU, Episode 16.14||→|
|Production number: 16014|
First aired: 11 February 2015
| Teleplay By|
Céline C. Robinson & Robert Brooks Cohen
Julie Martin & Céline C. Robinson & Robert Brooks Cohen
Jean de Segonzac
The virtual world becomes reality when a video game convention turns into a crime scene.
Video game developer Raina Punjabi solidifies the launch of her first game amid a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats from the male-dominated gaming community. When a female employee is assaulted at a gamer convention, Detective Tutuola investigates the crime but Raina refuses to delay the launch, and the cops must "level up" to protect her.
Olivia meets with her therapist where she discusses Noah and how she is starting the paperwork to adopt him.
Fin, Sonny, and Rollins are spending their weekend at a video game expo, checking out new video games amidst crowds of gaming fans.
As they make their way through the booths, the men explaining gamer lingo to a clueless Rollins, they come across Leslie Connolly, the male nanny from the GlagowMan case who created a video game from his drawings. What the detectives fail to notice is two guys verbally harassing a female gamer named Sarah Manning the booth for the Amazonian Warriors: Protectors of the Rainforest game.
The guys have a problem with Sarah's boss, Raina Punjabi, who created the "feminazi" game, but she tells them to get lost. She then excuses herself to run to the bathroom, but when she comes out of the stall, the guys push her back in and assault her. She fights them off and they run.
A bloodied and bruised Sarah gives a full report at the station, blaming the gamers' misogyny for the attack. Amazonian Warriors isn't popular with guys who like shoot-'em-up video games like Kill or Be Slaughtered, because, as she puts it, Warriors is "non-violent and non-stupid."
The game launches in a few days and the haters have been getting more aggressive online, accusing Raina of sleeping her way into the business by getting engaged to Steven Kaplan, a wealthy businessman.
Rollins and Fin meet with Raina and Steven, but Raina is too worried about her product launch in two days to give them much information. She does admit that she gets cyber threats all the time, but they don’t intimidate her anymore. Back at the station, however, the detectives get some intel from an unlikely source: Leslie Connolly. He tells SVU that while skimming online gamer forums, he came across a thread discussing the attack on Sarah.
One message appeared to be from one of the attackers himself, bragging about the assault. Leslie messages the guy, pretending to want to meet up and continue to harass Sarah. The plan works and when the guys show up to meet Leslie, an undercover Sonny arrests them and Sarah IDs them in a lineup.
While Fin and Rollins are enjoying dinner at the precinct, Fin catches a live stream interview of Raina. A SWAT team storms her apartment, tearing through her home and aiming a gun at her head - all on camera.
When Fin and Rollins get to the scene, they learn ESU got multiple 911 calls claiming there was a hostage crisis and Raina was holding kids and weapons in her apartment. Raina's unfazed, but Steven's upset - Raina was sent a threatening message earlier that day, and then got doxxed, meaning her personal information, including her address, was posted online. And the threats continue, including one warning Raina that if she goes through with the Amazonian Warriors launch, she will be raped, mutilated and murdered.
Despite the threats against her and her company, Raina refuses to postpone the launch, especially since her swatting went viral and she's become "the face of women in gaming." She tells SVU that while she appreciates the warning, she is refusing police presence at her launch, but the detectives decide to keep an eye on the event anyway, as discreetly as possible.
At the launch, Raina takes the stage, introducing herself and her game, but before she can continue her presentation, red dots start appearing on her face and body. Several audience members are shining laser pointers at her. Benson and Fin kick them out of the auditorium, but just as Raina begins again, the lights go out and smoke bombs go off.
The audience freaks out, running for the exits and in the melee, Raina is lost. Her mic, however, is still on and the detectives can hear her being led to safety by a security guard, but when Carisi checks out the security monitor, he sees the security guard attacking Raina in the stairwell, carrying her out the back exit.
Carisi races out to the alley and tackles the fake guard. Suddenly, a Jumbotron outside the convention center switches to a live feed of Raina being bound and gagged inside a van. A masked man announces, "Game on, NYPD."
The kid that Carisi tackled claims he has no idea who his accomplices were - he was just told to bring her down the back stairs so they could "prank" her on the street. He had no idea they were going to throw her in a van and kidnap her.
SVU tracks the van down to outside an abandoned warehouse, where they find a Kill or Be Slaughtered logo, and evidence that Raina was held there. The kidnappers also left a video of Reina being slapped around with the message: Level Completed.
Back at the station, Carisi finds another video: a live stream of the three kidnappers taking turns raping Raina.
Bound and bloodied, Raina is forced to give a message, admitting gaming is no place for women, and all the other "bitches" in the industry aren't safe and aren't wanted. The kidnappers also make her say she never loved Steven and only married him so he'd back her game.
While watching the video, Rollins realizes the upload is geotagged to the home of Mrs. Marisa Rossi in Staten Island. The kidnappers have been using the dark net the whole time, but now they start to leave a trail? It must be a trap. This whole thing is a game to them and NYPD has to play along. At the Rossi home, the detectives find a bewildered art teacher who just got home, but who has a college-age son who plays video games in her basement.
Rollins, Fin and Carisi search the basement - it's definitely where the kidnappers videotaped and raped Raina - but their guns are missing from the gun safe. Just then, Rollins gets a call from Raina, saying she stole one of the kidnapper's phones and they're holding her in a parking garage. She begs Rollins to come save her - she thinks they're going to kill her.
What Rollins doesn't know is that the kidnappers have a gun to Raina's head during the call - they've orchestrated the whole thing. Luckily, Fin is on to them and warns that this sounds like the final level of Kill or Be Slaughtered, where they call the cops only to ambush them when they show up.
At the garage, SVU and the SWAT team finds Raina tied up and duct taped to a rifle aimed at the door. They search the place and find two of the perps on the roof, shooting at them. One of them, Anthony Rossi, surrenders without a fight and claims the other two, Ryan and Pierce are totally out of control. Anthony states that he purposefully geotagged the video to his mom's house so the cops would find them.
As Rollins cuffs Anthony, Cairsi pushes on and when he emerges around a corner, Pierce takes a shot at him, but luckily, he misses, not anticipating the recoil in real life.
Carisi moves in, kicks Pierce's gun away and pulls out his cuffs. He turns around to find Ryan with a gun pointed at his head, telling him to "prepare to be slaughtered."
Rollins comes up from behind, but Ryan sees her and tells her to drop the gun. It's not looking good for either Carisi or Rollins until out of nowhere, Fin surprises Ryan from behind. He tells him to drop the gun or he'll blow his head off, but the gunman refuses. Just as he turns around to shoot Fin, Fin shoots him dead three times. In the aftermath, Fin is put on unpaid administrative leave for a few days, but Bensen tells him to keep his badge and gun as it was a good shooting.
The next day, Rollins goes to visit Raina at her apartment to see how she's holding up and to tell her that one of the guys responsible wants a plea and the other guy wants to go to trial. Raina gives up and quits the gaming world.
- Mariska Hargitay as Sergeant Olivia Benson
- Danny Pino as Detective Nick Amaro (credit only)
- Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins
- Ice-T as Detective Odafin Tutuola
- Peter Scanavino as Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr.
- Raúl Esparza as A.D.A. Rafael Barba (credit only)
- Mouzam Makkar as Raina Punjabi
- Peter Mark Kendall as Steven Kaplan
- Logan Paul as Brandon
- Susannah Flood as Sarah Keller
- Adam Scarimbolo as Security Guard
- Jefferson White as Gary
- Toby Turner as Game Host
- Jack Vale as Himself
- Andrew MacLarty as Zachary Carter
- James Ciccone as Peter O'Neil
- Juliet Pritner as Marissa Rossi
- Bruce Faulk as ESU Commander
- Kelly Evans as Reporter
- Luke Marinkovich as Anthony Rossi
- Evan Jay Newman as Pierce
- Anthony C. Mazza as ESU Officer #1
- Josh Daniels as ESU Officer #2
- Trevor Zhou as Douchey Guy
- J. Clint Allen as Laser Pointer Guy
- Michael Harkins as ESU Officer #3 (uncredited)
- Ashley North as Video Gamer (uncredited)
- Fin: Teens practice eight hours a day. They are not noobs.
Fin: Short for "newbies".
Sonny: Yeah, that's more short...
- Go home gamergirl! (Gary)
- Amanda: What happened?
Sarah Keller: This guys... They just... They just can't stand women in gaming.
Amanda: What did they do to you?
Sarah Keller: They leveled up.
- In their world developers are like God. And some guys already don't give girls that power. (Fin)
- Sarah Keller: They were two and they were just total FALs.
[Olivia is perplexed]
Fin: Failers at Life.
- I've read on Kotaku that it's better than Civ 5 with the Brave New World expansion pack... (Fin)
- No reset button in the real world! (Fin)
- Anonymous cowards! (Raina Punjabi)
- Ever since the swatting went viral, I’ve been called the face of women in gaming. [...] I’m [not] showing the world I’m intimidated by cyberterrorists. (Raina Punjabi)
- Better to be called a bitch than a coward. (Raina Punjabi)
- Wow, lazerpointers. You know, my mom's cat loves those. (Raina Punjabi)
- Game on NYPD! (Ryan)
- I (can) guess what's the next level. (Amanda)
- I realize now that gaming is no place for females. So all you bitches should get out now. You're not wanted, you're not safe. I also have a message for Steven Kaplan: I never loved you, I always slept with you so you'd back my game. I am a slut and I am a liar. (Raina Punjabi)
- Punjabi: Whatever, I'm out.
Amanda: You said, if you give up they win.
Punjabi: They already did.
- He tried to hurt someone without actually thinking about the actual person at the other end of those messages. And that usually comes from a place of pain. A feeling like... like you don't matter. (Sonny)
- They don't know what's real and what's a game! (Anthony Rossi)
- Is it being a whore a crime? (Ryan)
- Sonny: Were you camping back there?
Fin: I know. Bad form. But effective.
- Olivia: So 20 years of gaming, or whatever it is you do with that controller, finally paid off.
Fin: See, I know the difference between video games and reality. Those guys didn't.
- A woman in gaming. What did I expect? (Raina Punjabi)
Background information and notes
- This episode is loosely based on real life harassment incidents allegedly suffered by real women connected to the gaming industry. However, the episode resembles no specific event in that none have ever led to real life violence, kidnappings or sexual assault.
- Raina Punjabi seems to be an amalgamation of several different women connected to the gaming industry, specifically pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian and indie developers Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu. Although while all those women are Caucasian, Punjabi is South Asian. All three women have expressed distaste for this episode, Quinn and Sarkeesian in particular both stating that Punjabi gave up too easily and they felt insulted by it.
- Forbes' writer Erik Kain has suggested that Raina shares many similarities to game designer Jade Raymond. Although Raymond is on record as saying she hasn't faced any serious cases of harassment or discrimination.
- This episode garnered a strong reaction from different Internet communities. The IMDb rating for this episode is 2.8 out of 10, the lowest of any in the series. KnowYourMeme has an entire page dedicated to the Internet's reaction to this episode and the subsequent memes that spawned from it.
Episode scene cards
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
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