Things can get tricky if you’re unfortunate enough to share the same name as a controversial figure – especially if using the same name as that person on Twitter. Cases of mistaken identity are nothing new – take, for instance, the poor soul named John Lewis who regularly receives customer complaints about queues in a certain popular retail shop.
But times can be particularly tough if you share the name of a hated antagonist in the most popular video game of the year – and this is exactly what’s happened to Colm O’Driscoll, a chap from Ireland who’s gotten caught up in Red Dead Redemption 2 mania.
Since the game’s release, O’Driscoll (the real one) has received multiple threatening messages on social media from players pretending he’s the infamous villain of Red Dead Redemption 2. Although they’re likely made in jest, some are quite alarming and take the trolling a little too far.
There are spoilers and offensive language ahead, pardner.
O’Driscoll has shared screenshots of one conversation via Twitter, which is bad enough, but he’s also shown us a variety of other messages received primarily through Instagram. Some are fairly harmless – such as “you damn O’Driscoll”, but others use inappropriate language and ‘joke’ that he’s on their “list of n***** to shoot on sight”.
O’Driscoll told Eurogamer he “[doesn’t] even have a PlayStation or an Xbox”.
When I asked O’Driscoll about this bizarre and rather worrying twist of fate, he said he assumed it was “just online trolls having fun”.
“I find the whole thing kinda funny, but the messages are starting to get annoying,” O’Driscoll added. “A little part of me worries that some of these people are so emotionally invested in the game that they’re starting to lose perception of what’s real and what isn’t.”
If you’re somehow out of the Red Dead loop, Colm O’Driscoll is the leader of your rival gang in the game. The antagonism between the player’s side (Dutch’s gang) and the O’Driscolls kicks off within the first few minutes of Red Dead Redemption 2’s narrative and O’Driscoll gang members will frequently shoot you when you’re trying to explore the world. Cursing the O’Driscolls is definitely one way to roleplay the game, but sending hate messages to a stranger on the internet is probably taking it a little far.
And indeed, O’Driscoll (again, the real one) told me he’s had to start blocking messages from strangers on Instagram due to the influx of Red Dead Redemption 2 references. When I asked if he found some of the messages alarming, he said: “A little! Just because I don’t know anything about the people who are sending them. But I’m hoping they’re all just joking and having fun.”
So if you’re wanting to vent your annoyance the next time an O’Driscoll boy shoots your horse – maybe try screaming into the endless void of Twitter rather than the real O’Driscoll’s DMs. It doesn’t all revolver ’round you.