With so many gamers attempting to establish careers with the help of platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Viewers have a sea of options to choose from, and their time, attention, and money is finite. Even big names like Ninja struggle to retain their viewership, and risk losing thousands of followers for each day that passes without fresh content.
Streamers employ a number of strategies to draw in and retain subscribers. When talent falls short, some turn to gimmicks and even outright deception to remain in the limelight or rake in more profits. Some of these tactics stem from good intentions, while others have more nefarious roots. From scams to bizarre social experiments, here are the biggest lies gamers have told on stream.
RealMKTomBrady MIA after raising money to attend a tournament
In December 2019, YouTube channel theScore esports published a video about Tom Brady, a pro gamer who allegedly scammed his fans to get donations from them. Brady, who mostly streams Mortal Kombat on Twitch, set a donation goal, saying he would use the money to attend a tournament.
Brady reportedly raised around $600 from fans who wanted to see him compete, but didn’t show up at the tournament in Philadelphia. As you might expect, his supporters got mad and demanded refunds. According to Brady, this was impossible as he had already spent the money. Where did the $600 go? The gamer claimed he had paid for the hotel and venue fee, but that an expensive Uber ride prevented him from showing up to compete.
According to theScore esports, Brady shared a fake Uber receipt in an attempt to prove he was in Philadelphia. After another streamer called him out, Brady finally admitted he had forged the receipt, didn’t make it to the tournament, and that his fans wouldn’t get their money back. Following this, a number of people came forward with stories of Brady scamming them on other occasions.
Fortnite pro RizArt presents himself as a child prodigy
Japanese pro gamer RizArt attracted attention from international media outlets in November 2018 after setting a new record in Fortnite. His subscriber count doubled on YouTube in the aftermath, rising to 187,000 at the time.
RizArt claimed to be 12-years-old when the life-changing match occurred. A few months later, he revealed he was actually 16 during an apology video. The gamer said his youthful appearance had led many of his viewers to believe he was much younger than he actually is, an assumption he decided to take advantage of. He initially kept his real age a secret, hoping that passing as a 12-year-old gaming prodigy would boost his views.
Despite gaining notoriety, RizArt couldn’t find peace until he revealed the truth to his fans. "I am truly ashamed for having lied to all of you," he said. To regain the trust of his followers, the gamer donated three months of his YouTube earnings to charity. Luckily, most of his fans were supportive and accepted his apology. Though his deception was controversial, he did not violate any official rules, as there are no age brackets for Fortnite competitions in Japan.
Punisher pretends he’s a woman as a social experiment
In early 2019, a player called "Ellie" joined the semi-professional Overwatch team Second Wind. She immediately attracted attention from the community, with many claiming she had received "preferential treatment" because of her gender. Some players even threatened to find and expose Ellie’s personal information online.
After the threats, Second Wind announced via Tweet that Ellie had decided to leave the team because of harassment. But the story doesn’t end there. It turns out Ellie was a fake. According to Business Insider, an investigation discovered Ellie was actually "Punisher," a male gamer and one of the top online Overwatch players.
Punisher allegedly had several women speak for him while playing as Ellie. Variety recounts how female Overwatch streamer Becca "Aspen" Rukavina decided to unmask Punisher on Twitch, saying that the player created the Ellie persona to conduct "a social experiment."
Some have speculated that Punisher took these steps to highlight the rampant gender discrimination that plagues the gaming industry. Others, like Business Insider‘s Kevin Webb, believe the experiment may have done more harm than good. "For women interested in esports, the scandal is another reminder that a portion of the community still refuses to believe that women can compete as professionals," concluded Webb.
PewDiePie claims he was banned in China
In an October 2019 "Meme Review" video, PewDiePie shared an image that compared President Xi Jinping to the Disney character Winnie the Pooh. Just a few days later, the popular YouTuber announced in another video he got banned in China. "It’s just kind of funny, like I knew it was gonna happen," PewDiePie said. He stated that, when he searched for his name on Chinese search engines, nothing came up.
Following PewDiePie’s announcement, BBC News claimed the popular streamer had not actually been banned. According to the report, "a search for his name still returns more than eight million results" on Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Google. Same for Weibo, a Chinese social media site, where the publication found plenty of PewDiePie’s videos translated by fans.
BBC News says the reason why the Chinese government didn’t bother to ban the controversial YouTuber could be his lack of popularity in the country. YouTube has been unavailable in China since 2009, so Western internet celebrities might not have a large fan base there.
Amouranth lies about streaming on private property
During a mid-2019 Twitch stream, Amouranth recorded herself while shopping in a clothing store. When one of the employees asked her if she was filming, she lied and said she was video chatting with a friend. This drew the ire of the popular subreddit r/LivestreamFail, where fans pointed out her behavior violated Twitch’s rules, and invited other Redditors to report her.
This wasn’t the first time Amouranth came under fire for filming in a prohibited area. In 2018, the YouTube channel Epic Highlights 64 published a video of Amouranth trying to stream inside a gym and getting caught by the staff. The streamer had a mirror behind her back, so the other gym-goers were visible in her stream. Staff members repeatedly asked her to film in front of a wall, focusing the camera only on herself, but she kept lying about not having her camera setup.
In the end, Amouranth left, saying "I’ll go to a gym who is more understanding of their members’ careers." She told her viewers that they kicked her out because she’s white.
Twitch streamer zilianOP pretends he has a disability
Back in 2013, it came to light that Angel "zilianOP" Hamilton, a Twitch partner and popular Diablo and World of Warcraft streamer, had spent years pretending to have a disability. Hamilton would occasionally ask for donations to cover "wheelchair-related expenses," had long given his viewers and subscribers the impression he was wheelchair bound.
Suddenly, in one of his streams Hamilton stood up from his wheelchair, while his girlfriend screamed "oh my god!" The fans, especially those who donated, were really angry. "It’s sad that anyone could stomach faking a disability for financial gain," wrote a Reddit user.
Twitch released a statement to Kotaku, saying it had closed Hamilton’s channel "on the basis of fraud." The website offered refunds to all his subscribers. "His actions are a huge slap in the face to Twitch community members with real disabilities such as Aieron, and groups such as AbleGamers, who have helped spread a message of inclusiveness and positivity to not only the Twitch community, but gaming as a whole," said the company’s spokesperson.
Trick2g fakes his own swatting
Popular streamer Trick2g celebrated gaining 800,000 Twitch followers in a very unusual way. As Engadget recounts, he faked being swatted. Following a 24-hour live event, the League of Legends player is seen being busted by two "cops."
After significant social media backlash, the streamer’s manager, Cher Gambino, confirmed that it was a prank. "There is always someone that thinks only their sense of humor is what matters and if they don’t think it is funny then it couldn’t possibly be," she said in Trick2g’s defense. "That is why our Country is in the shape it is now, because we fear making light of anything that might be thought of as controversial."
Gambino doubled down on this viewpoint in a statement to Kotaku. "Trick was laughing, the person used was NOT in disguise and was the same person who was on the stream all day yesterday setting up cameras and assisting the stream," she said.
Regardless of the intent behind it, Trick2g received a one-day Twitch ban.