Florida Mass Shooting Prompts Calls for More Security at eSport Events

(CN) – The mass shooting at Sunday afternoon video gaming competition that left two dead and nine others wounded has prompted calls from gamers for more security at esports tournaments.

“It’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond,” tweeted Joey Cuellar, the tournament director for the Evolution Championship Series, an esports event that focuses on fighting games.

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. 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). And it’s no wonder that everyone wants in on the action — careers can be made and millionaires are minted. 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.

There in Las Vegas, competitors will play for a share of the tournament’s $165K prize pool, with the winner taking home $25,000.

As of Monday morning unclear what kind of security was at the event, which was held at a game bar inside a waterfront mall.

In the wake of the shooring Electronic Arts, the publisher of the Madden NFL games, said on Twitter that“the tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn.

“Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured,” the statement said.  “All of us at Electronic Arts are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene. Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue their investigation into this crime.”

Shad Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, also released a statement Sunday, saying “It’s impossible to comprehend today’s news. I’m heartbroken for the families and friends for the victims and can only express my deepest condolences as we try to understand why and how this can happen, not only here, but anywhere.

“What I can say is I know today what lifelong Jacksonville residents have known forever – we are resilient, compassionate and remarkably supportive of our neighbors and friends, particularly in the most trying occasions. This tragedy will ask the best of all of us, but I know we will respond,” Khan said.

Some top players and industry watchers said Sunday that security hasn’t caught up with the seriousness of the sport.

“Heartbreaking to hear about the shooting at the Madden event,” wrote Cristian Tamas, the director of esports programs for Twitch, the platform that broadcasts gamers’ live streams. “Unfortunately, this was a matter of when not if. Esport event security, in general, has been extremely poor over the years, we should’ve stepped it up long ago.”

In December, the Call of Duty World League tournament held in Dallas was evacuated — twice — due to bomb threats.

Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson met with Jacksonville law enforcement Monday to be briefed on mass shooting which occurred at The Jacksonville Landing on Sunday.

Senator Nelson said that he and Senator Rubio had wanted to ensure that investigators had all the resources available to them.

Senator Nelson said ,”We as a society have to examine ourselves as a society to say how much more violence are we going to continue to take.” He did not go into the details of the investigation.

“My own preference is that we would get to the point where we would get a comprehensive, universal background check in the acqusition for a gun,” Senator Nelson said. “I think that would screen out a lot of mental health cases because it would be comprehensive. Whether or not it would have screened out this shooter, I don’t know.”

However, reform comes down to votes, Senator Nelson said, to pass meaningful, resonable gun legislation and that is when ” elections will have consequences.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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