This is not what I actually had in mind when I sat down to write tonight. My intentions were to bridge the gap between the last GTR season I was on, and the next. Kind of a written Locked & Loaded, if you will. There were a ton of headlines that were left out. But, I’m really not there, now. My brain is running on empty as it tries to make sense of this weekend’s events...
On Sunday, August 26th, in Jacksonville, Florida, tragedy struck as a 24 year old man opened fire during the EA Sports Madden NFL 19 championship series. I will not name the shooter, though many outlets have. Three dead, including the shooter. Eleven injured. Senseless.
Details have come out that the shooter had a history of mental health problems, having been hospitalized twice as a teenager. He purchased the handguns and ammunition legally in his home state prior to the event, but authorities do not believe that the attack was planned.
Now, I could roil us all up with my personal political motivation. Pro-gun or anti-gun, it wouldn’t matter. My point is, I don’t think anyone is listening. There’s so much wrong in our society these days that this shooting could simply be a footnote by the time the next season of Geek Tank hits this page. We try really hard not to be too cynical for our listeners, but sometimes things happen. Things that question your faith in humanity. Not just because of what the shooter has done, but how others will respond. How people will politicize, apostletize, and villainize this situation for their own agendas. How quickly our presumed fears will be turned into convenient “truths” for those who want to put the blame as far from their position as possible.
First, the blame will be put on the gun used. Then there will be people who advocate for the gun, blaming the mental health of the shooter. Many of those will also stand firmly against any regulation that would have kept the firearm out of the shooter’s hand, declaring gun ownership a Right. (These same individuals have no problem revoking that Right from criminals, but we’re not here to discuss that… yet). The most ludicrous blame will be on the gaming community itself.
The gaming community is used to being the scapegoat, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The masses believe that video games promote violent behavior. It won’t matter that this wasn’t your typical “violent video game.” It was a sports game. A highly competitive, football simulation. Some senator or parents’ group activist will declare that video games and the individuals who escape into those worlds are a blight on this once great nation. Sadly, there’s so much toxicity to be found in the gaming-centric corners of the internet these days that these accusations will gain more traction than anything the investigation into the shooter will reveal.
Meanwhile, as a gamer, I’m torn asunder. These players, from all over the country, gathered in a sports bar at a mall to partake in a video game championship, streamed live on Twitch TV. This was supposed to be a fun time, doing things that brought them joy. Instead, three people are dead, eleven more injured. Just one more heartbreaking tragedy, hitting ever closer to home.