What are esports and Twitch? Shooting at video game tournament promts questions

Tanya Edwards
A player holding an Xbox controller. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
A player holding an Xbox controller. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

By now, you’ve probably heard the news about the horrific mass shooting at a gaming tournament held at a popular shopping and entertainment area in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the gunman killed two people and shot nine others before turning the gun on himself.

The shooting occurred during an esports tournament in which gamers competed by playing “Madden NFL 2019,” a competitive football video game. Judging from video from the incident, the players were broadcasting their performances on Twitch, a live-streaming platform, when the gunshots began.

Esports, meaning the presentation of competitive video games before an audience in the manner of traditional sports, is still an unfamiliar concept to many.

The tournament was being held at the GLHF Game Bar, which is described on its website as a home for nerds and gamers, next to a Chicago Pizza. The Jacksonville Landing, which is located along the St. Johns River, is home to restaurants, stores, and live entertainment. The GLHF Game Bar is designed as a place for people to relax, drink, eat, and play video games together. “Whether it be PC, console, or arcade cabinet, we’ve got it here at GLHF,” the website reads.

The bar, and many other locations across the U.S., host gaming tournaments regularly. Players sign up, pay a fee that varies usually based on how big the event is, and compete against each other, usually for a cash prize.

The largest pool ever went to competitors in the International Dota 2 Championships in 2017. They battled for a prize pool that was more than $20 million. Since its launch in 2011, this event has given out more than $55 million in prize money.

As the popularity of gaming has grown, events of all sizes have spread across the country, combining socializing with gaming, and allowing fans to watch the gameplay.

Gamer Drini Gjoka, who just celebrated 6,000 followers on his gaming YouTube channel, was at the tournament and shared a series of scary tweets.

Gamers, who often play against each other and talk trash over their headsets, are understandably shaken up by the incident.

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