Cecilia D'Anastasio reports on the life and death of Rudy Ferretti, a retrogaming star whose life beyond adding high-scores was dedicated to removing his enemies from the retrogaming scene. Enabled and abetted by fellow-travelers and spineless moderators, he was extraordinarily successful in this respect, held up as a hero even as he constantly harassed women, openly stalked those who beat his scores, and even created a game about killing them. Last week, police say, Ferretti shot his ex-girlfriend Amy Molter dead, then killed himself.
Longtime members of the retro and arcade gaming scene say they warned community leaders and even police about Ferretti's threatening behavior for years. For close to a decade, they say, Ferretti had harassed, stalked, and threatened gamers, particularly women, pushing some out of the niche gaming scene entirely. He flashed guns in tirade YouTube videos and bragged on Facebook about bringing one to an event at the Museum of Pinball in 2017.
Arcade game collector and researcher Catherine DeSpira and video game historian and storage auction buyer Patrick Scott Patterson—two of Ferretti's most public targets—say they collectively contacted police in different states a half-dozen times to report Ferretti's threats against themselves and others. They say those attempts ultimately had no effect. All the while, clusters of retro gamers across the country egged Ferretti on in private messages and on forums, leveraging his apparent instability and misogynist inclinations against women they didn't want in the scene.
"You'd think anyone would look at it and go, 'Hey, this guy's gone, out there,'" says Patterson. "But people weren't doing it. They were emboldening it, pushing him, giving him a support system."
On YouTube (below) game historian Brett Weiss recalls a "sickening" narcissist. In the comments to his video, victims and acquaintances share recollections of Ferretti's appalling behavior. As bad as people knew it was, worse now comes to light—a warning about tolerance that echoes over and over but is rarely heard.