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Man Arrested After Threatening To Kill Square Enix Staff

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A 25-year-old nursing care worker has been arrested after allegedly emailing Square Enix, threatening to kill staff.

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According to Livedoor News, the man is accused of sending an email on February 5 to Square Enix’s Tokyo office that read, “Hey staff tomorrow I’m going to kill you get ready [for your punishment]” [SIC].

In Japanese, the last part of the threat is “kubi arattokeyo” (首洗っとけよ), which literally means “go wash your neck.” The expression has its roots in ritualistic samurai suicide. After a samurai would disembowel himself, the kaishakunin would then slice off his head. Here, washing one’s neck refers to get ready for this ultimate punishment.

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The threat caused Square Enix to beef up security. The man was finally arrested on March 29 and has confessed. “I spent over 200,000 yen ($1,794) on the game and I didn’t get the [in-game] item I wanted so I sent the email out of revenge,” he reportedly said.

As website Hamusoku points out, it sounds like the money was spent on a virtual gacha, which is akin to a loot box. Gacha items are the video game equivalent of capsule toys (called gacha-gacha in Japanese).

Last September, around thirty emails were sent to Square Enix with the word “kill” written in Japanese. Authorities are now investigating whether or not those are connected to this suspect.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

Loot boxes and the like very clearly play on the natural human tendency to assume that our luck will turn if we try “just once more.” For folks with gambling/addiction issues, that compulsion can be incredibly powerful.

That said, the game doesn’t force you to spend money; whether it’s a hand of cards, a round of Keno, or a loot box, the game is not reaching out its hand and pilfering your wallet without your consent (obviously this is a very different situation for kids, which—coupled with the exploitation of gambling/addiction issues—is the primary reason loot boxes and the like should be regulated). Blaming the company for your own poor impulse control is already a bad look--elevating it to a death threat absolutely removes any sympathy I might’ve felt, and places you squarely in the asshole category in the whole kerfuffle.