Electronic Arts is running a “comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators” following the shooting in Jacksonville on Sunday that left three dead and 11 injured at a pro “Madden” tournament.
“The event was a qualifying tournament for the Madden Classic, our first Madden EA Major competition of this season,” wrote EA CEO Andrew House in a blog post on Monday night. “While these qualifying events are operated independently by partners, we work with them to ensure competitive integrity and to gather feedback from players. We have made a decision to cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators. 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 news comes as other esports and video game convention organizers also reassess safety in the wake of the Florida shooting.
ReedPOP and Penny Arcade, which runs the PAX West game convention that draws massive crowds to Seattle starting this Thursday, reiterated its commitment to safety.
“As PAX has grown in popularity, we have responded with the addition of increased private security, law enforcement, and other personnel, each of whom are on-site at all times during our events,” according to a statement sent to Variety. “As a rule, we do not publicly announce or discuss the details of our security program in order to maintain its effectiveness, however, we work closely with the Washington State Convention Center, private security, the Seattle Police Department, and federal law enforcement authorities to identify risks, assess them, and develop our comprehensive security protocols for PAX West. We have in place extensive proactive measures; some that are visible during PAX events and many that are not. We are always working to improve our security plans and, if need be, adjust them, to ensure that we are doing all that we can to make PAX West, and all PAX events, a safe and secure environment for the community.”
Riot, which oversees its own popular series of international esports “League of Legends” tournaments, also noted its commitment to safety.
“The safety of fans, players, and employees is the top priority for every NA LCS [North America League Championship Series] event,” NA LCS commissioner Chris Greeley told Variety. “The league utilizes multiple security measures including bag checks, item restrictions, metal detector screenings, and on-site security to ensure the safety of all those in attendance. While we won’t comment on specific modifications regarding our safety and security procedures, we are continuously evaluating and iterating on our security plans for all of our events.”
A Blizzard Overwatch League spokesperson told Variety they don’t disclose specifics of its safety measures, but that they take “every threat seriously and have several security measures in place to ensure a safe environment for fans, players, and staff.”
Sunday’s shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville when 24-year-old David Katz, who had reportedly recently lost a match in the competition, walked through the bar, where the matches were still being played, and opened fire. After killing two and injuring 11, he shot himself with one of the two handguns he carried with him.
The two people killed on Sunday were 28-year-old Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson and 22-year-old Elijah “Trueboy” Clayton. Both were professional “Madden” players participating in the tournament. Ten others were taken to local hospitals with gun-related injuries. The sheriff’s office said all are in stable condition. One additional person was also treated for a non gun-related injury.
In his open letter about the shooting, EA’s Wilson expressed shock at the shooting, the first of its sort at an esports event, and called for the larger video game community to take time to offer each other support.
“It is an unthinkable tragedy that Taylor Robertson and Elijah Clayton, two of our top Madden competitors, lost their lives in this way,” he wrote. “They were respected, positive, and skilled competitors, the epitome of the players and personalities at the heart of our community. Their love of competition was evident through their participation in our events over the past few years. We are committed to supporting Taylor and Elijah’s families through this difficult time, and we send our deepest sympathies to their loved ones, to those injured yesterday, and everyone affected.”