ABC, ESPN delay video game tourney broadcast after shootings

  • ESPN and ABC are postponing the broadcast X Games Apex Legends tournament, which was scheduled for this weekend, until later this year.
  • Video games have been criticized by President Donald Trump and other lawmakers as promoting real-world violence.
  • Yet researchers say there is no causal link between video games and the increase in mass shootings.

ESPN and ABC are postponing a broadcast of a video game tournament following two mass shootings last weekend, citing a wish to respect the victims and those impacted by the violence. The broadcast of the X Games Apex Legends EXP Invitational, originally scheduled for this weekend, will be delayed until later this year.

ESPN sent a note to affiliates on Aug. 6, or three days after a shooting in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 people, according to a tweet from esports consultant Rod Breslau. The tournament, which was held last weekend, will now be shown on ESPN2 on Oct. 6, Oct. 15 and Oct. 27, CNET reported.

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The decision to delay the broadcast follows a number of mass shootings, including those this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton Ohio, which left a total of 31 dead and dozens more injured. The shootings have stirred debate about the role of video games in real-world violence, with President Donald Trump among those placing partial blame for the El Paso shooting on the video game industry, which critics say glorifies and normalizes violence.

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While Apex Legends is a first-person shooter video game, it isn’t a particularly violent one. Its characters are cartoonish figures, and it doesn’t feature blood or gore. Video game tournaments, particularly those of first-person shooters, have gained in popularity in recent years, fueling bigger prizes and audiences. In July, a teen won $3 million in a Fornite tournament.

In the letter posted on Twitter, ABC said that it was delaying the broadcast “out of respect for victims and all those impacted by the recent shootings.” But the decision sparked criticism on social media, with some pointing out the network has recently aired shows that contain more violence than the Apex game.

Walmart yanks video game displays

Video games are also receiving new scrutiny at Walmart, which said it is removing promotional displays for violent video games in its stores following the mass shootings. The El Paso shooting occurred at one of its locations, while a July mass shooting took place at one of its Mississippi stores.

But gun control advocates say Walmart’s decision is hypocritical given the retailer has said it will continue selling guns following the two mass shootings. Earlier this week, the nation’s largest teachers union threatened a Walmart boycott if the giant retailer doesn’t cease gun sales in its stores.

In a speech on Monday, President Trump singled out video games as well as mental illness as causes of the increase in gun violence. Despite such claims, there’s a lack of research backing up those assertions, according to the video game industry.

The industry and its supporters also point to another fact: Violent games are played globally, yet no other country has a rate of gun violence as high as the U.S., suggesting that causes aside from video games may be to blame.