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E3, GDC and esports organizers respond to security concerns following Jacksonville shootings

Live events face new scrutiny in wake of Florida tragedy

On stage during game one of the Fortnite E3 2018 pro-am
Fans enter the Banc of California Stadium for the Fortnite E3 2018 pro-am event
Ross Miller/Polygon

Organizers of live gaming events and esports competitions are reviewing security plans, following the fatal shooting of two men at a Madden NFL contest in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday.

Various organizers have issued statements in the past two days, focused on assuring the public of their security measures.

The Entertainment Software Association, organizer of E3, responded to a Polygon request for comment with the following statement: “E3 attendee safety is a paramount concern for ESA. We regularly consult with leading security and law enforcement experts to implement protocols wherever necessary, including, among other measures, deploying metal detectors, uniformed personnel, and bag searches. We will continue to review these and other measures to help ensure the safety of all E3 exhibitors, staff, and fans.”

Responding to the Florida shooting, Game Developers Conference general manager Katie Stern commented: “We are devastated by the events that took place in Florida this past weekend and our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy. The well-being of GDC attendees is our priority and we will continue to work closely with our event partners to coordinate safety and security protocols for all upcoming events.”

Yesterday, PAX West organizers issued a statement that they 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.”

The esports world has been in a state of mourning since the weekend, when a competitor shot and killed Elijah “TrueBoy,” Clayton and Taylor “SpotMePlzz” Robertson at a Madden gaming contest. In the wake of the murders, Electronic Arts announced that it had canceled three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events. EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that the company is working on “a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators.”

Other esports organizers have responded to the event, which took place in a small gaming bar, and was attended by little more than a hundred players. Most gaming events take place at informal locations, such as bars and hotels. Larger events often take place in more secure locations such as entertainment arenas, exhibition halls and television studios.

Pressure on esports and gaming event organizers to improve security is likely to increase. Jason Lake, founder and CEO of top esports team Complexity Gaming, tweeted: “It’s time esports events (large and small) double down on security for everyone in general and players specifically.” Complexity player Drini Gjoka was injured in the Jacksonville shooting.

A spokesperson for major esports league ESL told Polygon: “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by the terrible and tragic event in Jacksonville, Florida. ESL events are subject to tight security standards. Nevertheless, the team is currently in the process of reviewing security protocols.”

Chris Greeley, North America commissioner for Riot’s League of Legends championship series said: “We are deeply saddened by the recent Jacksonville, Florida shooting and we extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families, and all those affected by this tragedy.

“The safety of fans, players, and employees is the top priority for every [North American League Championship Series] event. 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.”

Joey Cuellar, who heads up fighting game tournament Evo tweeted: “While Evo does not comment on security procedures (for obvious reasons), it’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond. The amount of undercover law enforcement at Evo was unprecedented, and we will be installing metal detectors for ALL days next year.”

We’ll continue to update with any new statements from companies and individuals involved in esports and gaming live events.