Like many MMOs, in-game items and gold in RuneScape have become valuable commodities, with both individual players and companies trading the goods for actual cash. Real-world trading of in-game items is considered a rule violation and can result in a ban. However, it is also a lucrative way for people playing RuneScape to make real money, and so many players have found ways to circumvent the rules.
Both versions of RuneScape offer player-vs-player combat in the form of various PvP modes, including one called the Duel Arena. When killed by another player in the Duel Arena, the winning player obtains everything carried by the defeated character as a reward.
On August 26, Twitch streamer VoldemartLive was playing Old School RuneScape and entered the Duel Arena while carrying 30 billion gold, the equivalent of approximately $15,000 in real-world money. As soon as he loaded into the Arena, the streamer began to holler about his health, cursing and calling for help. As his wife and child sat on a couch nearby, VoldemartLive was killed by another player within 15 seconds, losing all of his gold. VoldemartLive temporarily ran offscreen while his wife sat in seeming shock, covering her mouth with her hand. The streamer then came back onscreen and began smashing his controller on a chair, while his young son watched in confusion. His wife then covered the child’s face and hurried out of the room.
People who have viewed the incident with VoldemartLive are of two minds. Some believe that the confrontation was authentic, but a majority seem to feel that it was staged. The main argument given by those who think VoldemartLive’s in-game gold loss was real is that his young child was sitting in close proximity and could have been startled by the yelling or hurt when the streamer began smashing his controller. The person who killed VoldemartLive is also known to be part of a group that has posted videos of themselves camping the Duel Arena spawn area and killing players for billions of gold.
On the other hand, those convinced that the incident was faked point out that having his wife and child nearby would lend credibility to a staged PvP death in order to cover up real-world trading. Other elements of the video lean toward this side of the argument. First, VoldemartLive even entering the Duel Arena with that amount of gold is suspect, as it seems doubtful that somebody would risk losing items with so much real-world value. Second, the streamer died almost instantly without any real attempt to defend himself. Having the death livestreamed would provide a documented explanation for the sudden absence of 30 billion RuneScape gold from his inventory. Others feel that a wife would know if her husband’s in-game items were worth $15,000 but, when VoldemartLive began yelling about his health, she appeared to not take it seriously and even had a visible smile.
Runescape is available on Mobile and PC.