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Madden shooting leaves nascent eSports community shaken



Madden shootingMark Wallheiser/Getty Images

  • Several prominent gamers and eSports leagues mourned
    the victims of
    Sunday’s mass shooting
    at a Madden tournament in
    Jacksonville, Florida.
  • The shooting occurred during the first event of the
    Madden eSports season.
  • The shooting could prompt a re-evaluation of security
    measures at the growing number of eSports tournaments.

The gaming community reacted in shock and sadness on Sunday,
after a
mass shooting at a Florida eSports event left three people

The shooting turned what had been a good-natured season-opening
event for a league of passionate Madden football players into the
latest scene of carnage resulting from a mass shooting in the

“It’s heartbreaking,” said eSports journalist and consultant Rod
“Slasher” Breslau. “It’s very hurtful to have these kinds
of issues that we see everyday here as Americans, and now it’s
coming directly home.”

The tournament, which was taking place at a bar in the
Jacksonville Landing outdoor mall, was hosted by Electronic
, the publisher of the Madden video game franchise. The
event was
the first of four regional qualifiers
for the Madden
Championship event slated for later this year in Las Vegas. The
event featured several professional players as well as dozens of
aspiring eSports players. 

While eSports has grown into a more than
$500 million industry according to Goldman Sachs
, the leagues
based on real-world sports like football and basketball are
generally considered smaller than the leagues for fantasy and
first-person-shooter games such as Call of Duty and Dota 2. 

But news of the tragedy quickly spread across the broader
industry of video gamers and eSports contestants. During a League
of Legends tournament on Sunday, the video stream included a live
statement to pay respects to the victims of the shooting in

And Overwatch, another game with a popular league, also made a

Ninja, the famous video game streamer who is most famous for
playing Fortnite: Battle Royale, tweeted condolences to those
affected and cited the “evil times we live in.”

Authorities identified the suspect as David Katz, a
24-year old gamer from Baltimore, Maryland, and said he died of
self inflicted wounds. 

According to the LA Times
, the shooter was a participant in
the Madden tournament who had been disqualified earlier in the
day, but authorities did not provide a motive or confirm whether
Katz was involved in the tournament. 

EA did not return requests for comment, though it tweeted
statements earlier that it was working with the authorities to
gather facts about the “horrible” situation.

Focus is turning to security at eSports events

The rapid growth of eSports have prompted concerns about security
at gaming events.

jacksonville mass shooting madden

According to Breslau, there have been occasions at some eSports
events when people have managed to get in front of the video
cameras streaming the tournaments. Although those incidents
involved people being crass or making jokes, they highlighted a
lack of security within the fast-growing industry, Breslau said.

In 2015,
two gamers were arrested
after travelling from Iowa to a
Pokemon tournament in Boston equipped with 12-gauge shotgun and
an AR-15 assault rifle. 

While the security at major eSports events is generally on par
with that of professional sporting events, that’s not usually
case at the numerous smaller events like Sunday’s Madden
qualifier, which took place in a bar.

The atmosphere at live gaming events can be intense, Breslau
noted, especially when significant prize money is at stake. Trash
talking among players is very common. But Breslau stressed that
the overall experience is one of fun.

“We’re a community of gamers,” Breslau said, noting that he’s
never witnessed a real-world physical fight at an event before.

And while the shooting occurred at a tournament for a football
game, Breslau said he’s bracing for some people to try to blame
video games for the violence. 

“I know the gaming community will come out and be a
positive force in the wake of everything that happened this
weekend,” Breslau said, but “I

 do know that
some people will try to make this about ‘Gamers are bad.'”

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