LOS ANGELES (AP) — The flags outside the Electronic Entertainment Expo are flying at half-staff in honor of the victims of the attack on a gay nightclub in Florida that left 49 dead. However, it will seemingly be business as usual inside the video game industry’s annual trade show this week.
E3 kicked off Sunday and Monday with flashy presentations featuring footage of upcoming games — many of which depict unrelenting gun violence — from Electronic Arts, Bethesda Softworks, Microsoft, Ubisoft and Sony.
EA, which has a studio in Orlando, did not directly address the shooting Sunday afternoon while hyping such games as the World War I-set military shooter “Battlefield 1” and the robot-filled sci-fi shoot-’em-up “Titanfall 2.”
Chris Plante and T.C. Sottek of the technology site The Verge wrote after EA’s presentation that “witnessing a sales pitch for the fun in gun violence felt strange, to say the least.”
The developers on stage at Bethesda’s presentation Sunday evening sported rainbow ribbons in support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as they showed off games like the arena-based shooter “Quake Champions” and the stylish assassin tale “Dishonored 2.”
Microsoft, Ubisoft and Sony each began their presentations Monday by offering their condolences to those affected by the attack.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer kicked off Microsoft’s event with a moment of silence before actress Laura Baily demonstrated a bullet-riddled level from sci-fi shooter “Gears of War 4.”
The PC Gaming Show directed attendees to oneblood.org to donate blood.
Following a colorful opening dance number set to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” to promote the choreography game “Just Dance 2017,” Ubisoft briefly addressed the tragedy in a moment that show host Aisha Tyler recognized was “incongruous.”
“Everyone here at Ubisoft wants to offer our deepest sympathies to the people affected by this weekend’s tragedy in Orlando,” said Tyler, who was surrounded by dancers dressed as animals, thunderbolts and candy canes.
Tyler and Ubisoft game developers on stage also wore rainbow ribbons as they showcased such games as the open-world tactical shooter “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.”
“A horrific event like that carried out by a madman really underscores our need for greater love, tolerance and respect of people of all kinds,” said Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, at the beginning of Sony’s presentation.
Several publishers and developers tweeted their condolences as news of the attack spread Sunday morning. EA called it “senseless and tragic.”
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said in an interview that the attack was “tremendously shocking and devastating.”
“I don’t know that it will directly affect the mood (at E3), but anyone who is a parent or feels they have a voice is certainly going to be thinking about how we, as a country and culture, move forward and address it,” he said.
The trade show has long featured presentations and demonstrations of mature-rated, over-the-top games featuring photorealistic grisliness, bone-crushing violence and other high-definition gross-outs.
The shooting attack that occurred just hours before E3 festivities began left many game makers unsure how to properly address the situation in their presentations and demonstrations, which have been carefully crafted and worked on for months.
“We wanted to say something as the gaming community that we grieve with them,” Xbox’s Spencer said in an interview. “We obviously have great gamers in Orlando and also people around the globe watching, so I don’t think it was a gaming moment. It was a human moment for us as a community of passionate fans knowing that passion can be directed in positive ways but also in times when people are mourning.”
Spencer maintained that fictional violence depicted in the interactive medium — or any other medium — is unrelated to real-world violence.
While many games set to be exhibited at E3 don’t feature violence, the shooter genre is among the most popular in the industry. Activision’s futuristic military shooter “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” and 2K Games’ gangster period piece “Mafia III” are among many such games that will be on display through Thursday in and around the Los Angeles Convention Center.
“The Orlando tragedy was a horrific act of terrorism and a crime of hate,” the Electronic Software Association, which organizes E3, said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected.”
The organization said security and personnel were already in place before Sunday’s attack to ensure attendees’ safety.
“We’re very ever-vigilant about security and always have been,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president at ESA. “We take the protection of those who attend this show very seriously.”
Associated Press writers James Brooks and Peter Banda contributed to this report.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/derrik-j-lang .
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