Millions of family members across the globe are reportedly feeling normal again, days after they were forced to socialize with furious gamer relatives when hackers took down networks used by PlayStation and Xbox.
Especially hard hit were those relatives living in countries where Christmas is observed, where holiday stress is high and tempers can easily flare up. Even after enduring delayed flights and lost luggage, many travelers had to put up with hours of nieces and nephews’ screams and curses after the hack crippled the networks, infuriating gamers and forcing them out of the dark.
The hacker group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks, but it apologized for any awkward social situations that resulted.
“Our goal was to expose holes in Sony and Microsoft’s security systems, not to force visiting aunts and uncles into unbearable conversations with teenagers who actually don’t give a shit about the snow or how long it took to drive from Toronto,” said a spokesperson for the group.
While most visiting relatives reported feeling uncomfortable at the sight of sullen teenagers, some even tried to make an early escape by claiming they had to return home to take care of a neighbor’s dog’s hemorrhoids, or to turn off the coffee pot.
Mike Vuong, a 22-year-old Virginia Tech student visiting his family in Michigan, almost singlehandedly ruined Christmas for a dozen family members when he appeared moments before the big meal. Because no one had seen him for days, no chair had been placed at the table for him, leading to embarrassment and a last-minute seating rearrangement.
“We hadn’t seen Mike the whole time we were there,” said Vuong’s brother Andy, who was visiting with his wife and newborn daughter. “We just assumed he was still in Virginia, but actually he was in the garage the whole time, playing some dumb sniper game.”
“Mike was in a freaking terrible mood during the entire dinner, and he left the table like every five minutes to see if he could get back to playing online,” Andy said. “It smelled like he hadn’t showered for a week.”
“As bad as it sounds, I’d have preferred it if those hackers had let him stay glued to his game until New Year’s Day,” he added.
In some cases, frustration turned into violence as gamers lashed out against unsympathetic relatives. Colin Scobie, a 34-year-old father of two from Denver, nearly burned down his parents’ suburban house after flames shot from his eyes and ears after they asked why he couldn’t just play “Destiny,” a multiplayer FPS game, by himself. Making matters worse, Scobie’s mother suggested he instead play with his old Nintendo 64, which she had lovingly stored in his childhood bedroom.
“[Scobie] went berserk, stole a moving van, and smashed it into a concrete wall,” said Sgt. Eric Hall of the Denver Police Department. “After we arrested him, he informed us that what really set him off was when his mother offered her cell phone, saying he could communicate with fellow players that way.”
In another case, the parents of a 16-year-old gamer from Japan were said to be offering a reward of one million yen ($8300) for the hackers to restore service to the Xbox network, saying that it was the only thing that would convince their daughter to get off the ledge outside their 10th-story Osaka apartment.