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How eSports Gamers Are Dealing With Trauma After Madden Mass Shooting

The gaming community was shaken up last weekend when an armed gunman killed two competing video gamers at a Madden Tournament in Jacksonville, Fl.

The gaming community was shaken up last weekend when an armed gunman killed two competing video gamers at a Madden Tournament in Jacksonville, Fl.

Sheriff Mike Williams of Jacksonville identified the suspect shooter as 24-year-old David Katz.

Eli “Trueboy” Clayton, 22, and Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson, 27, were gunned down while participating in the competition. Although police haven’t revealed the shooter’s motive, gamers in attendance speculated that Katz began to “target specific rivals” after being defeated earlier on in the tournament.

Omar Jimenez on Twitter

Eli Clayton was one of two gamers killed in the Jacksonville shooting. From the family: My cousin has to bury her first born – and it is just as terrible as that sounds. Our family has been forever changed. Nothing will replace the love that we have for Elijah.


Following the cancellation of three Madden qualifiers, Electronic Sports released a statement saying the company will establish safety measures for their upcoming gaming competitions and they also announced a $1 million donation to those impacted by the horrific event. But even with these new security initiatives, some tournament attendees are still trying to deal with the aftermath.


Recently I spoke with Derrick Smith, 24, a Madden Tournament competitor who fled the shooting. He spoke about seeking a psychologist to cope with the emotional and mental stress days later.

“I already have therapy scheduled,” Smith, said, “last night I couldn’t sleep. I was at Gamestop earlier and somebody was in the back breaking down boxes, it just felt like a gun going off.”

The gaming community and friends have since mourned the deaths of both Robertson and Clayton, paying tribute to the victims.


PROBLEM on Twitter

Crying and in so much pain. Prayers to the families of Trueboy and Spotme. All over a videogame. Two of our brothers are gone man and its so disturbing. One of the most tragic days ive experienced. This community is like family. Broken.

RealWorldSports on Twitter

RIP Trueboy! One of the victims in the Jacksonville Mass Shooting. He was was of the best Young #Madden19 players too.


Although the general support online was positive, some gamers felt that certain individuals utilized the mass shooting for their own personal agendas. NBA2KLeague head coach Famous Enough expressed this sentiment in our conversation.

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I just think some people literally wait on anything to happen, just so they can push their personal agendas. Theyre not caring about the lives lost or the families of the victims, their agenda is the only thing on their mind. Its totally not right.

Some of these social media discussions, before and around the time of the shooting, included topics on toxic masculinity, harassment, and even racism during online gaming. As a black man, Smith did mention that he has personally dealt with some of these issues while playing.

“People would call you the n-word…monkey…some people take it as trolling. I didn’t take it personally because these people didn’t know me and I don’t know them.” Smith said.

Smith went on to explain that most of these experiences happened to him while playing first-person shooting games. “I feel like (racist comments) mainly (happen for me while playing) shooter games, with sports games (like Madden or 2K) I haven’t really dealt with it nearly as much.”



Despite general stereotypes that plagued the gaming world’s identity, Madden‘s community has built a tight-knit family over time that created a safe zone for the players.


“The gaming community itself, it brings people closer, Smith said, Im more personal with people that Ive never met a day in my life. I just spoke to them, some guys I cant even put a picture on them, all I see is their avatar. And Im closer to them and telling them info about my personal life than friends I went to high school with.” 

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“I went out (to Jacksonville) with two of my friends that live locally but we actually stayed in the hotel room with about three other people from Indianapolis, one guy from Jersey, another from California and that was my first time meeting them in person. But, speaking to them for the first time in person, it felt like Ive known them for years.”

Since the shooting, one aspect of gaming that concerns Smith is the use of trash-talking. Like other players, the New Orleans gamer used trash-talking as a mental strategy while competing. But now Smith is a bit nervous about using this tactic, especially against players he may not know personally or who potentially aren’t sound people.

“During the game, trash-talking is one of my strategies,” Smith said, “But, now with the shooting that happened, you kind of think like let me refrain from (trash-talking), you dont know who this guy is, you may be playing against someone you dont know, he might be having a bad day and you talk trash to him and beat him, it could turn bad. “


CNN reported that Katz had issues ranging from mental illness to domestic disputes and has previously been prescribed psychiatric medications. Even though the reason why he shot and killed people is still unknown, as mentioned before, some speculated that the tournament defeat might’ve been part of the motive.

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The loss of two promising gamers and the decision by one hostile individual instilled some fear within Smith, scaring him potentially away from future tournaments.

#WeAreMadden on Twitter

#WeAreMadden on Twitter

https://t.co/eCK693RjgO

“I think this shooting will definitely deter me from going to events or tournaments where I’m not familiar with everybody. If security is there, it might change, but right now I have no motivation to even play video games, my whole mindset on that is just off.”


Both victims had promising futures, Robertson had career winnings of more than $80,000 and had won the Madden NFL 17 Classic, while Clayton was “one of the perennial top competitors in the scene” who won $51,000 in his gaming career. 


Although these losses were a hard hit to the gaming community, the support, the friendships and the love that these players have for one another is helping them get through this traumatic experience day-by-day. One person will not stand in the way of the camaraderie that these guys have built over time.

“I’ve built way more friendships and (experienced) more positivity (with gaming), this incident won’t ever change my outlook on the gaming community.”

Erin Ashey Simon is a writer, producer, host and contributor for The Shadow League. Host of Grass Routes Podcast and the NBA 2K League’s The Post Up, a former college athlete who passes the time playing flag football. Simon has previous work experience at Cycle Media, REVOLT TV, The Wall Street Journal, and more. Originally from New Jersey, Simon graduated from the University of Kentucky.