Rapidly growing world of eSports rocked by mass shooting

Jacksonville Sheriffs officers patrolling at Jacksonville Landing, on Aug 27, 2018.
Jacksonville Sheriffs officers patrolling at Jacksonville Landing, on Aug 27, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • The rapidly expanding eSports world of competitive video gaming was struck by tragedy on Sunday with a mass shooting at a Madden NFL 19 Classic tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

Events streamed online allow hundreds of millions of fans around the world to watch video game teams and players just as they would go to a stadium or arena and view a beloved local sports club.

Madden NFL 19 is the latest edition of the video game series named after retired NFL Super Bowl champion coach and long-time TV commentator John Madden.

The game, considered one of the most realistic digital NFL games, was released by manufacturer EA Sports earlier this month ahead of the 2018-19 NFL campaign that begins on Sept 6.

Tournaments of various styles of video games have grown in popularity in recent years, with shooting, strategy and fighting for multi-player teams evolving into some major arena events. The boom in eSports has caught the attention of sports groups such as Fifa and NBA. The International Olympic Committee has also studied the possible future inclusion of eSports medals in its offerings.

The Florida event was a regional qualifier for a Madden NFL 19 Classic tournament that would deliver a US$25,000 (S$34,160) top prize to the champion at the main event in Las Vegas later this year. Games feature soundtracks and realistic player motion for rushers, blockers and quarterbacks and receivers.

"This is a horrible situation and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved," EA Sports tweeted.

HORRIBLE EVENT

This is a horrible situation and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.

EA SPORTS, in a tweet.

SHOCKING TRAGEDY

We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy today in Jacksonville. Our hearts go out to all those affected.

THE NFL, in a statement.

The NFL said in a statement: "We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy today in Jacksonville. Our hearts go out to all those affected."

There was minor controversy over the Madden NFL 19 release having the name of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick censored, a move EA Sports said was required because - as he was no longer in the NFL and not an NFL Players Association member - they did not have the rights to use him in the game.

 

Kaepernick began the protest of kneeling during the playing of the US anthem at NFL games while he was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, a move that has continued despite harsh criticism from President Donald Trump.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2018, with the headline 'Rapidly growing world of eSports rocked by mass shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe