Video game maker Electronic Arts has announced it is cancelling all remaining tournaments of its Madden NFL 19 football game to review safety protocols after a gamer opened fire during a video competition on Sunday afternoon, killing two and wounding 11 others.
David Katz, 24, who lost a Madden football video game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, killed fellow competitors Elijah Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 27.
‘They were respected, positive and skilled competitors, the epitome of the players and personalities at the heart of our community,’ Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, said of the two victims in a statement released early on Tuesday.
Video game maker Electronic Arts has announced it is cancelling all remaining tournaments of its Madden NFL 19 football game in the wake of the shooting deaths of Elijah Clayton, 22, (left) and Taylor Robertson, 27, (right)
David Katz, 24, (right) was a former champion gamer but lost a Madden football video game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar in downtown Jacksonville, Florida
Wilson said in the aftermath of the ‘horrific and senseless act of violence’, the company had canceled the three remaining qualifying events for the Madden NFL 19 Classic, the first of four major competitions of the season for the video game.
The cancellations are in order to ‘run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators,’ he said.
‘We will work with our partners and our internal teams to establish a consistent level of security at all of our competitive gaming events’.
The incident prompted calls from gamers for more security at esports tournaments.
Joey Cuellar, the tournament director for the Evolution Championship Series, an esports event that focuses on fighting games, led calls for more security.
‘It’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond,’ he tweeted.
Elijah Clayton, 22, (right) is seen with a laser focused on him in a livestream just moments before he was shot and killed
The tournament is held in Las Vegas and draws some 15,000 people. In March, organizers called the FBI when someone wrote online: ‘mass shooting @EVO18 see you there.’
That event went off without a hitch, but Cuellar also wrote on Sunday: ‘The amount of undercover law enforcement at Evo was unprecedented, and we will be installing metal detectors for ALL days next year.’
Esports are big business, boasting an estimated 250 million players worldwide in a growing market worth about a billion dollars a year.
David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, carried out the shooting spree with a handgun on Sunday afternoon at the Jacksonville Landing complex in Jacksonville, Florida
A Goldman Sachs report in 2017 valued eSports at $500 million in 2016 and anticipated market growth.
Entire companies have sprung up to form e-sports teams, and the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team sponsors an esports team – one of their players was injured in Sunday’s shooting.
Epic Games announced in May it will provide $100 million to fund prize pools for ‘Fortnite’ tournaments during the first year of competition.
At Sunday’s Madden competition, the tournament was streamed live on Twitch.tv, an online network that attracts tens of millions of visitors, most of whom watch footage of other people playing video games.
This weekend’s ‘Madden 19 NFL Classic’ was the first of four planned events.
According to the EA sports website – the game’s developer – the top two finishers at the Jacksonville event would earn a spot in Madden Classic main event in Las Vegas, Nevada, that’s scheduled for October.
Clayton’s gamer profile: ‘They were respected, positive and skilled competitors, the epitome of the players and personalities at the heart of our community,’ Andrew Wilson said
Robertson’s gamer profile: The killings rocked the world of professional video game tournaments, also known as esports where gamers compete against one another by controlling all facets of a team during a contest
There in Las Vegas, competitors will play for a share of the tournament’s $165K prize pool, with the winner taking home $25,000.
It’s unclear what kind of security was at the event, which was held at a game bar inside a waterfront mall.
In December, the Call of Duty World League tournament held in Dallas was evacuated – twice – due to bomb threats.
Seth Abner, an XGames Gold Medalist and Call of Duty World Champion, wrote on Twitter in the wake of Sunday’s shooting: ‘I’ve been saying events NEED better security. Such a damn shame that now event coordinators will respond after a tragedy happens.’
Some gamers say the pressure of competition, the desire to please fans and the intense gaming can lead to anxiety and mental health issues, or worse.
‘In the world of competitive video games, mental health issues loom so large and come up so often that the problem somehow becomes invisible,’ wrote Tyler Erzberger, who covers esports for ESPN. ‘In a world where one day you can go from playing in your bedroom to the next being criticized by millions under spotlights, mental health can’t be overlooked.’
David Katz, 24,(left in his yearbook photograph) is believed to have been living alone with his NASA engineer father Richard (right). It has emerged he had ‘significant medical problems and needs’ as a child when his parents were divorcing
The killings rocked the world of professional video game tournaments, also known as esports.
The incident was the latest in a series of high-profile shootings in Florida.
A gunman killed 17 students and educators at a high school in February and another killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016.
‘We’ve all been deeply affected by what took place in Jacksonville,’ Wilson said.
‘I know many of us, myself included, are filled with shock and grief. Our teams have been working non-stop to do what we can to respond to this terrible situation.
‘This is the first time we’ve had to confront something like this as an organization, and I believe this first time our gaming community has dealt with a tragedy of this nature.’
The EA Sports division of Electronic Arts makes Madden NFL 19, a video game that depicts National Football League competition.
Gamers compete against one another by controlling all facets of a team during a contest.