Earlier this afternoon, multiple people were shot and killed and many wounded over a senseless video game.  Madden EA football to be exact.  How senseless, how tragic I thought as the news scrolled through my Twitter feed.  Then I remembered back to the time, 15 years ago, I too played in a John Madden football video game tournament in Albany.  While I never feared for my life, it was a bit unsettling. Think Eminem's character 'B-Rabbit' in 8 Mile. It wasn't my element, but I loved my Madden, and as shady as the whole event was, I played in it anyways.

I paid something like $50 to enter and played in a seedy bar/night club that was transformed into a video game arena of sorts.  The competitive gamers in the crowd against weren't particularly friendly, and if you weren't talking trash, you were certainly the exception, not the norm.  A few times, things got a little bit ugly as trash talking became personal, and losing players became more and more irritated. Nothing ever really came to blows, but it was the kind of environment that had sort of this 'something's brewing' quality to it.  I remember thinking to myself that once I'm eliminated, I'm getting the heck out of here.  That's exactly what happened.  I lost in the first round, grabbed my jacket, and left without saying goodbye. 

That was 15 years ago.  Fast forward to today where CNN is reporting:

  • What happened: shooting occurred during a Madden 19 Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, according to the Twitter page of CompLexity Gaming, one of the gaming teams.
  • The victims: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says there are "multiple fatalities" at the scene. A law enforcement official briefed on the incident said preliminary reports say 11 people were shot and four were killed.
  • The suspect: The suspect is dead at the scene, officials said. They have not identified him.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not at all comparing a little bit of fear and anxiety I had to the horrific tragedy that took place today in Jacksonville, and I'm not insinuating that what happened today could have happened to me.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families and I hope the injured get well soon.

All I'm saying is that it's a video game, guys.  A mindless, silly, video game. But, nonetheless, one that I always loved to play. And having played in a tournament much the one that turned tragic today, it got me thinking about how much times have changed, even though the game stays the same.