Robotoki Studio Stormed by Police Mistaking Life-Sized Statue of Ghost from Call of Duty as Armed Gunman

See a shiny button, press it. Unnamed designer presses panic button at indie studio; police responding to the alarm mistake an armed life-sized statue as a gunman and storm the building.

See a shiny button, press it. Unnamed designer presses panic button at indie studio; police responding to the alarm mistake an armed life-sized statue as a gunman and storm the building.
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Well, really, what do you expect?

In a serious case of the sillies, two incidents occurred in LA-based indie studio Robotoki yesterday that led to the building being stormed by armed policemen.

The first was that a brand new panic button had been installed the day before.

The second was that this is a story about a game development studio, and they are not averse to having life-sized statues of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s Simon “Ghost” Riley standing armed and ready around the office–in this case, most noticeably next to a window.

You can already guess what happened.

Robert Bowling, founder of Robotoki and former employee at Infinity Ward, explained that the situation was not a swatting prank as per early reports–that is, where a third party tricks the police or emergency services by detailing a faked threat and triggering an emergency response dispatch to the target.

“One of our designers, who shall not be shamed, pressed [the panic button] on his way out because apparently when boys find buttons that they are unsure of, their first instinct is to push it.”

…Yep. That I can see.

“So after pushing it,” Bowling continued, in the interview with Polygon, “everyone went home for the day, leaving their lonely studio head to receive the assault of their actions.”

When police arrived, they found that they couldn’t enter through the building’s front entrance, and proceeded around to the back where they spotted the life-sized statue next to the window, and mistook it for a gunman.

“I was in my office when they arrived and saw them coming up our stairs, guns drawn. They yelled for me to put my hands up and walk towards them slowly, then took me into custody and out of the studio until they cleared the rest of the rooms and floors.”

(image capture via Polygon)

After 15 minutes and a tense face-off with a statue that they had nearly taken down, the police came back out laughing. Upon realizing that it was all a mistake and that there was really no threat at all, the talk turned to Bowling’s line of work and the LAPD fell to coming down off the adrenaline high with a round of video games using the office’s NES controller table.

The day was saved, no one died, Bowling was not fined, and everybody lived happily ever after.

It begs the question, though:

Why does an indie game studio even need a panic button?

According to Bowling, it’s there to protect his team of developers, “as game developers receive their fair share of death threats.” As an ex-employee of Infinity Ward, the makers of Call of Duty, I can maybe see where he’s coming from… but for an indie studio whose first game, Human Element, is still in development and not due until 2015, it seems a little… excessive.

‘Optimistic’ doesn’t sound entirely accurate, but it does sound reasonably appropriate.

Here’s hoping Human Element will make as big an impression on us as Ghost on the LAPD.

About the author

Stephanie Tang

Avid PC gamer, long-time console lover. I enjoy shooting things in the face and am dangerously addicted to pretty. I'm also a cat.