Written by Mike “LANDodger” Luxion
(This is an editorial piece. The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.)
Today I had a bit of an article collision. I was originally going to write about weenus’s open love letter to me, but I’m going to put that off for another time. For now, suffice it to say that I’m extremely flattered by the praise, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a big public thanks to him and those that feel the same way – without people that enjoy reading what I write, I’m just another guy with a diary.
Still, I’m delaying that because there’s a more pressing issue: Shaun “Hostile” Catron and the incident at ESL.
Before I go any further, let me say that I’m glad he’s not seriously injured and I think it goes without saying that we all wish him a speedy recovery. There are certain situations in life that are almost impossible to imagine; you have to experience them to have any real knowledge about what they’re like emotionally and mentally. Falling in love is one of those. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I think having a gun pulled on you is also one – I simply can’t imagine what kind of thoughts and feelings go through one’s mind in that kind of situation, and in the face of such a situation, wishing for a speedy recovery seems to pale in comparison.
That being said, there are plenty of things I’m not all that comfortable with, mostly with how people are reacting to the story.
Case in point: check out the first page of GotFrag comments. The end of their news post about Hostile says that they’ll be “nuking all comments making light of this situation and posters will be temporarily banned”. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll notice that 34 of the first 50 comments are nuked. Ugh. That’s a pretty poor rate, even for an eSports forum. It gets better from there, but that’s not saying much considering it probably couldn’t get much worse.
From what I can tell from comments that weren’t nuked, and some of Hostile’s own remarks, a lot of the nuked material probably refers to karma – the thinking being that because Hostile likes to talk smack during games, that somehow means it’s okay somebody put a gun to his head. I believe this begs the question “How fucking stupid do you have to be to equate talking shit with having your life threatened?” If we used this premise as a model for the world, your favorite sports stars would be mugged daily without remorse and Kevin Garnett would be slightly less popular than herpes. Those guys aren’t trading soufflé recipes when their mouths are moving on TV, you know. If people really believe talking shit in a game is roughly equal to having your life depend on somebody’s itchy (or not) trigger finger, while that person might be under the influence of drugs, I can only imagine that in this same, twisted vision of the world, people that don’t pick up after their dog are thrown in jail and anybody that commits an actual crime (like breaking the speed limit) is immediately struck down by a karma-induced lightning bolt.
Anyway. I had to get that off my chest, but there are a few other points I wanted to address, as well.
First of all, let’s talk about hotels. Some people saw that Hostile booked himself a hotel room after the incident and wondered why ESL didn’t simply do that beforehand. Why put them in residences at all? The simple answer is probably that Hostile booked a room for himself, while ESL would have to book rooms for everybody. So when officials say that hotels were booked months in advance, it’s entirely possible that some hotels might have had a room or two free, but they didn’t have a block big enough for ESL’s needs.
Some people are blaming the situation on ESL because they put players up in seedy neighborhoods. I can understand that. Nobody wants to show up at a LAN, get shuffled off the No Tell Motel, and live amongst the native wildlife (read: cockroaches) for a few days. I think the biggest issue here is forewarning – it seems like the players were unaware of the situation before getting to Germany, and I’m not sure how that happens. People are traveling from all over the world and you don’t tell them ahead of time where they’re staying? As a player, that would make me incredibly nervous.
I think the biggest issue here is forewarning – it seems like the players were unaware of the situation before getting to Germany, and I’m not sure how that happens. As for putting them up somewhere else, not only is that a problem logistically – one that might not have even been possible considering the scale of the whole event – but it’s also not a cure-all solution. Look, the bottom line is that crime happens. Being in a crappy neighborhood certainly raises your chances of being a victim, but that’s not the end of the story and it doesn’t matter how much money you have or what your neighborhood is like. Sammy Sosa was robbed while in Caracas, Venezuela, losing $20,000 in cash. It’s not just a problem abroad, either. Antoine Walker was a victim of armed robbery at his house. So was Eddy Curry. I’m sure you could find more examples; those three are just the ones that instantly came to mind.
This raises two other points, namely one of personal responsibility. Was Hostile to blame because he made a poor decision by going out by himself at night? To be honest, no, it probably wasn’t a good idea for Hostile to be grabbing a beer at 1 AM by himself, especially if the area was really as seedy as people are indicating.
But I think placing the fault on both of those (personal responsibility and ESL’s choice of housing) misses the point. They’re valid thoughts, and they’re certainly germane, but that doesn’t make them right. You can put gamers in nice areas, and you could even try to enforce curfews if you really wanted. There’s simply no guarantee that people won’t get mugged, robbed, scammed, or have their stuff stolen in some form or fashion. Just ask Mssrs Sosa, Curry, and Walker, who not only have enough money to avoid the bad parts of town, but also have enough to hire bodyguards and have a home security system.
Is it horrible that this happened? Yes. Do I wish Hostile a speedy recovery? Yes (and you should too). And maybe both parties, ESL and Hostile, could have prevented the situation, but I hesitate to focus on abstract thoughts when there’s a very real situation right in front of our eyes and we seem to be in danger of forgetting who the victim was.
And, just as importantly, where the blame really lies: squarely on the shoulders of the real criminals.