Plenty of people have never even heard of esports, but the growing industry was cast into the national spotlight Sunday when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of people participating in and watching a video game tournament.
Also caught in the middle of the tragedy was Twitch, the Amazon-owned service widely used for watching other people play video games, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. Twitch had been broadcasting the event, which was taking place at a bar in Jacksonville, Fla.
The details: Many shots can be heard on the livestream, although the actual shooting took place off camera.
- The screen turns away from the players and to a full-screen video of the virtual game being played. The screen eventually pauses to say "controllers disconnected" while at least a dozen shots and screams can be heard in the background.
- Right before the shooting, a red laser dot, presumably from the gunman's weapon, appears on the chest of one of the gamers participating in the game.
Twitch has taken the video down, but it has gone viral elsewhere on social media.
Why it matters: This is one of the worst instances yet of public violence being broadcast to thousands of people in real time through internet live-streaming. It's also a new kind of headache for Amazon, which has been less implicated than some of its rivals in many of the controversies swirling around social media.
Twitch is by far the most popular streaming platform for gamers, with over 2.2 million monthly unique broadcasters competing for the attention of the site's 15 million daily users, according to the company's website.
- It's common for gamers to gather in physical areas (bars, arenas, etc.) to watch fellow gamers play games live, for entertainment and in order to learn new techniques.
- The people in attendance on Sunday's event were watching fellow gamers play "Madden NFL 19," the latest version of Electronic Arts' widely popular Madden series.
- Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million.
Esports has become a massive business, and is expected to nearly double in U.S. revenue 2021, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC estimates that esports will bring in $240 million in U.S. revenue in 2018, which is 10 times more than it brought in just 5 years ago.
The big picture: Increasingly, people are leveraging the mass reach of live-stream platforms to commit violent acts.
- Facebook, in particular, faced heavy criticism last year for making its "Facebook Live" streaming technology readily available to its more than 2 billion monthly active users without fully understanding the consequences.
- Google and Twitter have also had to deal with the unforeseen impacts from their live platforms, YouTube and Periscope.
- Many tech firms have since been able to crack down on these types of videos before they're uploaded or before they go viral with better artificial intelligence and rapid-response teams.
Go deeper: Read Sara's full story here.