Jacksonville gaming tournament shooting puts focus on the wrong thing

The most recent tragedy in Jacksonville, Florida has upset the whole world. A shooter entered a bar that was live-streaming a Madden NFL 19 tournament on Sunday. The gunman killed two victims and injured 11 more before he turned the gun on himself.

The immediate reaction was tragic – before the victims and bystanders had even been properly cared for, articles about the dangers of video gaming were flooding the net. Why? Because David Katz, 24, the shooter, was a previous competitor in the Madden tournament and even a winner in 2017.

The tournament itself came with a $5000 dollar prize, and both Katz and several of his victims were in town for it. In fact, the attack happened during the stream itself and the footage includes the sounds of gunshots and screaming. “What’s he shooting with?” one person can be heard asking in the live-stream audio.

The footage cut off quickly, but plenty of people witnessed the beginning of the tragedy. Once authorities had secured the scene and information about what had happened reached the Internet, two distinctive things happened – gamers, fans and family and friends of those affected expressed their regret and condolences over the tragedy, while several media sources immediately blamed his gaming for his actions.

Jacksonville gaming tournament

©AP Photo | Laura Heald and prosyscom

While the former focused on expressing sympathy to the victims and their families, sensationalist sources couldn’t wait to once again start a debate on whether or not video games and esports are damaging to the mental health of their players.

Where the victims and those affected deserved to have the focus on them, the opposite happened. Once the identity of the shooter became public, his life was dissected and reported on in great detail. While authorities declined to comment on his motive, that didn’t stop people from speculating.

What went largely ignored were the victims of this horrible attack. Elijah “TruBoy” Clayton and Taylor “SpotMePlzz” Robertson were the two players killed. Both were well-known within the community and game publisher EA even commented on their passing: “Many of us at EA knew Elijah and Taylor well, and their positive, competitive spirit and respect for other players was evident to everyone.”


©AP Photo | Laura Heald and prosyscom

Countless other pro-gamers spoke out in much the same way – in fact, many actually commented on the great reaction the community showed in reaction to this event. Tony Montagnino, a gamer who was also wounded in the shooting, said in a tweet that he was heartened by what he saw in the wake of the bloodshed — “a community of people rally around each other.”

Even organisations like OpTic Gaming were quick to be supportive – less than a day later, OpTic announced a Charity live-stream this Friday. All donations during the stream will go to aid the families of the victims. Several gofundme pages have also been set up with the same goal.

That however, is not what you will see in most news reports on this matter. In fact, the supportive reactions that so, so very many gamers, celebs and organisations had, went ignored almost entirely. That’s a shame, and even more, a reflection on the wretched view so many news outlets have taken here. Conspiracy theorists are hard at work too – Tony Montagnino has already been accused of being a so-called crisis actor, and even had a tweet saying that ‘now he knows the police and military feel’ – absolutely despicable of course.

It’s not about one mentally ill gamer, it’s about his victims, their loved ones and the remarkable support from a community that normally can’t agree on anything.

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