How One YouTuber Exposed Unpoliced Shadow Economy of 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive'

Mysterious crusader known only as HonorTheCall gained viewers – and respect – when he blew the lid off a video game scandal

HonorTheCall's investigation brought the conversation around proper disclosure to the fore. Credit: Glixel

On June 27th, a bombshell of an investigative report rocked the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community. Using irrefutable facts and public documents, it tore the lid off of a case in which several high-profile professional YouTubers were illicitly profiting from the bizarre shadow economy that has sprouted up around the popular online shooter. The release of the report touched off what came to be known as the CS:GO Gambling Scandal. It led to several lawsuits, prompted follow-up coverage from many major news outlets and sparked a conversation within the community about the legal and ethical rules around disclosure – a topic that has become increasingly hot as the popularity and followings of YouTube "influencers" has ballooned, along with their earnings.

Though the scandal blew up into a mini Watergate-for-gamers story, there was no Woodward and Bernstein in the picture. Neither mainstream media nor the specialist gaming press were responsible for what came to light. The report was entirely the work of one man – a regular shooter fan who started out making videos for fun and chooses to remain anonymous.

Known only by the handle of HonorTheCall, this muckraking crusader is a mild-mannered engineer by day. "I make boring software that enables big enterprises to do their work," he says. But in his spare time, he creates fiery, profanity-laced video rants that excoriate wrongdoers in the gaming community.

Only HonorTheCall’s immediate family and one close friend know his secret identity. All that his online audience of tens of thousands know about him is that he was born and raised in Northern India, that he now lives in Toronto, and that he dedicates a significant portion of his spare time to policing the community of online shooter game fans. He sees himself as a truth-teller and an advocate, and he doesn’t hesitate to call out stars in the YouTube community when he feels that they have transgressed.