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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A Madden Tournament Mass Shooting and a Riot Games Exposé Cap a Difficult Week in Video Games

It's been a difficult week for videogames, with tragedies and major struggles dominating the news. This week at Replay, let's take a look at what's happening and what might happen next.

The Esports World is Reeling After a Tragedy Strikes

We start with some hard news: a mass shooting last weekend at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. David Katz, a 24-year-old man from Baltimore, opened fire at the tournament, injuring 11 people and killing two competitors, as well as himself. Katz was also a competitor at the tournament, which occurred at the GLHF Game Bar.

It's a terrible turn of events that has sent the esports space into a bit of a tailspin, along with games at large. Everyone from pundits to players have scrambled to evaluate gaming tournaments and events in light of the violence: what security is needed, what could have been done to stop it, what it means for future gatherings. This is the first notable mass shooting to occur at a gaming event, and for those of us in games it's a stark reminder that, with America as it is right now, nowhere is really completely safe.

Riot Games Promises Change, So Here's Hoping

Riot Games, developer of the immensely popular League of Legends, has recently come under heavy scrutiny due to a massive, damning expose from Kotaku diving into an alleged culture of serious sexism at the company. Now, Riot has published a blog post promising a laundry list of changes and sharing what reads as a sincere manifesto about wanting to change.

True, decent apologies can be hard to come by in the tech space, and all of Riot's suggestions for change here are solid: expanding diversity programs; reviewing the language used in all levels of corporate communication; and creating anonymous means to file complaints, among others. It's not nearly enough to be certain that change is coming—talk is only talk, after all, and we've heard lip service from other companies facing down scandal—but it's still encouraging. Hopefully talk won't be talk for too long.

Recommendation of the Week: Lucah: Born Into Dreams

Some games are built to tackle adversity. They're games about suffering, about fear and pain, and about beating back the darkness. Lucah is one of those games. A 2D hack-and slash game shrouded in mystery, shadow, and religious intrigue, it's a fascinating, dense experience. I'm still working through it, beguiled and a little baffled, fighting my way through a bevy of hand-drawn monstrosities and twisted clerics. Created by melessthanthree and released recently on PC, it's a strange but accessible little action game worth checking out if you need some catharsis. I know I do.

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