By now, the vast majority of us have heard about the shooting over the weekend, at the Madden Classic tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. This senseless act of violence took the lives of three young men – one of whom had been a previous winner of the tournament in 2017, and the other a former high school football player from Calabasas High School, who was consistently one of the top players in competitive Madden. The third death was that of the gunman himself, after taking his own life. Nine other people suffered gunshot wounds, and still two more were injured while trying to flee from the GLHF Gaming Bar where the tournament was taking place.
According to his EA player profile, Eli “trueboy” Clayton was “consistently one of the best in competitive Madden”. A former football player from Calabasas High School, the 22 year-old was from Woodland Hills, California, and was seen as a rising star in the world of competitive eSports. Clayton was one of the first to be shot by the gunman.
Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson was a former winner of the Madden Classic tournament (in 2017), and had career winnings of over $80,000 in his gaming career. Robertson was a 27 year-old husband and father from Ballard, West Virginia, and was sponsored by Dot City Gaming.
In a two-part tweet, Dot City Gaming voiced their thoughts on the loss of the two gamers:
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless violence in Jacksonville and the tragic deaths of Dot City Gaming team member, Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson, and Eli “Trueboy” Clayton. They were great competitors and well-loved members of the Madden community. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to their families, loved ones, and all of those affected by this tragedy.”
The Madden Classic was the qualifying event for the Madden NFL ’19 tournament, and held a top prize of $5,000. Those who made it to the finals would play for their share of a pooled amount of $165,000. As we’ve all seen, those players who become successful in eSports can earn very lucrative endorsement deals, thousands of dollars in cash and prizes from tournaments, and even earn money from streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
The shooting in Jacksonville has already sparked calls for tighter security at eSports events and gaming conventions. Here in the Washington, DC Metro Area, the organizers of GEXCon (where the Madden NFL ’19 Northeast qualifier will take place) recently sent out a notice on the official GEXCon event page on Facebook, which read as follows:
Please know that we have in fact heard about the terrible news in Florida. With that said we are currently on the phone with both the venue and our security firm to discuss things.
We have always considered your security and enjoyment to be the MOST important things to provide you – our attendees.
– Matthew Wiltshire
President of GEXCon
After reading all of this, you may be asking, “But Doug… What about the shooter?”
Well, I am not going to use his name here. Naming him only feeds into what people like this want: notoriety. If you’re that curious, you can find his name in various news articles about the shooting. Sufficed to say, the 24 year-old Baltimore, Maryland native who was responsible for this heinous violence was a competitor in the Madden Classic this year, and the speculated motive for him going on the shooting rampage was that he was eliminated from the tournament after losing to his rival(s). In my book, that not only makes him a monster, but a coward and a foul loser as well.
I’m going to end this with some personal thoughts, dear readers: We gamers need to remember that the spirit of competition and accomplishment fostered by our favorite hobby is what makes many of us happy. With many of us having been shunned or called names in our youths, simply because we love video games, one would hope that we could always come together to enjoy playing with and against one another in a safe space. Gaming should be a positive environment for everyone, and should be one of the most inclusive and welcoming cultures out there. Still, there will apparently always be that looming notion: “What if someone does this again? How do we stay safe? How do we prevent these things from happening?” Well, as I’m not going to wax political in this article, I won’t talk about the grassroots movements that we can all get involved in to lessen the likelihood of these incidents in the future. What I WILL say, is that I feel we could all benefit from greater communication with one another, using our respective experience(s) to build one another up instead of tearing each other down.
Remember, at the end of the day, we’re all gamers. While we may play on different consoles, enjoy different types of games, and have all different skill levels, we all belong to this community. Let’s take care of each other.