The annual video game conference in L.A. saw developers and gamers pay tribute to the Orlando victims, while denying any connection between violent video games and violent crime.”>
Flags are flying at half-staff this week at E3the Electronic Entertainment Expoin honor of the 49 people killed and 53 others wounded Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, in the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history. As of Monday most of the industrys leading gaming companies made a point to mourn the victims either onstage at the gaming confab in Los Angeles, California, or on social media, pledging support to those forever traumatized by the shocking actand in a few cases, to the LGBT community rocked by the homophobic terrorist attack.
But no top gaming figures have yet publicly acknowledged the elephant in the convention hall: The unsettling parallels between horrific displays of real world violence like that in Orlando, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Isla Vista, Charleston, or San Bernardino and the fantasy violence that fuels their multi-billion dollar industry.
Xbox head Phil Spencer was the first to issue spoken condolences at the top of Microsofts Monday morning panel, which included a moment of silence for the Orlando victims killed by gunman Omar Mateen, who targeted the patrons of a gay nightclub over Pride weekend. To everyone affected by the recent tragedy in Orlando: Our hearts are with you, and you should know you are not alone, said Spencer. The gaming community mourns with you.
Sundays massacre, in which 29-year-old Mateen opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub armed with a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock, took hostages, and left over 100 injured or dead, again prompted critics to draw a link between the culture of gaming violence and real life shooting tragedies.
Just stop all of it, tweeted actor and comedian Michael Showalter, decrying a breadth of popular entertainment that glorifies violence. The video games. The movies. All of it.
While details of the horrifying mass shooting emerged throughout Sunday, E3 watchers took note as presentations by Electronic Arts and Bethesda Softworks made no onstage mention of Orlando. Instead, EAwhich staffs an outpost in the Orlando areasimply tweeted a statement of support as execs presented titles like first-person shooters Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 onstage without further comment:
Todays events in Orlando were senseless and tragic. This hits particularly close to home for us at EA, given we have hundreds of employees who work at our Tiburon studio in Orlando. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy, and to the entire Orlando community.
Bethesda, meanwhile, swiftly planned an unspoken tribute to Orlando: The company behind sci-fi shooting franchise Doom and titles like Fallout 4 had all of its speakers wear rainbow pins onstage and on streams in solidarity for the LGBT victims killed at Pulse nightclub, and updated its Twitter account to a rainbow avatar.
Watching Sunday presenters like Electronic Arts and Bethesda Softworks tentatively skirt the issue the day of the attack probably showed Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Sony that an official statement on the tragedy was, perhaps, a much better call.
After mentions during the Microsoft and Ubisoft panels, Sonys Shawn Layden gave the lengthiest onstage moment to acknowledging the Orlando tragedy Monday evening.
I think its important that we take a moment to address the heartbreaking tragedies of Orlando this past weekend, he said. A horrific event like that, carried out by a madman, really underscores our need for a greater love, tolerance, and respect of people of all kinds.
On behalf of the Playstation community I just want to say that our thoughts are with the victims and the families and the community of Orlando. We stand foursquare with them, and we hope that in this week of our gaming celebrations with the diversity of our gaming community we can find some strength, some comfort, and some solace.
The Playstation community stands foursquare with our friends and fans in the LGBT community as well, he continued, and I know theyre all in the hearts of everyone tonight.
The speeches did not go unappreciated by those in attendance.
Avery Price, a gamer and streamer who goes by the moniker Little Siha on Twitch, praised Tylers statement following the Ubisoft press conference. Its an issue that needs to be talked about, she told me, also commending Microsofts moment of silence earlier in the day. Its very important to show that we stand with [the victims], which I think is even more important.
She appreciated the challenge gaming companies face in finding the right way to integrate that message into their sales presentations. Its kind of hard to bring up, considering its such a different topic to what were talking about. Were talking about gaming and thats a tragedy, but I think its important to bring up in some way even if its a little abrupt or awkward.
Makson Lima, an Xbox blogger from Brazil, agreed. I shouldnt say it was enough, but it was a measure, he said. Everyone is mourning, and the game community is as well.