A major tragedy rocked the gaming community in 2018. In Jacksonville, Florida, a mass shooting occurred at a Madden 19 qualifier. Three people were left dead, with eleven more injured. Twitch clips went around the internet, showing a red laser sight targeting one of the players, then going to gameplay right as shots ring out and people start screaming. It is the kind of unimaginable thing that keeps happening in the United States. It also brings up a question. How will video game companies move forward and handle things, like this tragedy, moving forward?
EA is one of the first companies to act, as well it should. This did happen at one of its events, after all. It immediately issued a statement, expressing its regret, condolences, and apologies. More importantly, it canceled the last three Madden 19 qualifiers. Which made sense, since I am sure a lot of people were not in the mood to play. Andrew Wilson, the company’s CEO, said that safety protocols would be reviewed and EA would ensure future competitive events had consistent security.
Even more important, EA has put together a significant outreach effort. The company revealed it was creating a charitable fund, The Jacksonville Tribute, where money would go to victims and the families of Taylor “SpotMeplzzz” Robertson and Elijah “TrueBoy” Clayton, with it making a one million dollar donation itself. It will also be holding a Jacksonville Tribute Livestream event on September 6, 2018, again to honor and presumably benefit the victims. This, again, is another smart and sympathetic move. It shows support for the people most impacted by this devastating event. It makes sure people remember and pay attention. Hopefully, it will also help everyone who was at that event and might need help with medical bills and counseling.
This also led people to wonder what might happen at subsequent events for gamers. For example, PAX West 2018 came under scrutiny, since it was the first major event following the events in Jacksonville. The PAX Team issued a statement confirming safety is a priority for them. It did note that it will note publicly announce or discuss measures being taken, to ensure it is effective, but said PAX West will have Seattle Police Department, federal law enforcement, and private security present, and attendees will see visible (and hopefully not see the less visible, but also there) measures in action. Polygon also learned from the Seattle Police Department that uniformed and plain clothes cops will be on the scene.
Even Capcom made a statement after the 2018 Jacksonville tragedy. The company took to Twitter to express grief, send condolences, and say that these kinds of violent acts should not be happening. Most importantly, it made a statement regarding how it will act when moving forward. It says security will increase at both independent and hosted events, taking care to work with organizers to be certain anyone who attends an event with Capcom games will remain safe. This is another good initiative, as even though this did not involve the company’s games, it is going to do what it can to make sure it never will.
A tragedy like what happened at the 2018 Florida Madden 19 qualifier is one that will not be forgotten easily. It shouldn’t. We should remember the fallen, show consideration to the victims, and do what we can to make sure such a thing does not happen again. It is good to see some companies and events started to take action immediately after to maybe help make things better in the future.