The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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dsheinem
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Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by dsheinem Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:56 am

Some morbid morning reading for you:

I just read this article on Kotaku discussing online fallout surrounding the death of Sean Smith, a.k.a. "Vile Rat," a SomethingAwful and Eve Online forums community member who was killed in the attack the other day on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. It's an interesting read that talks about how people were discussing him on forums and honoring him in various ways in-game following the sad news.

It got me to thinking: what experiences, if any, have people had with the death of a community member or friend that you knew and communicated with primarily/exclusively through a game-based forum like this one?

In my time here I don't think I can remember any instance of the community learning that a forum member had passed away. I know that we've had many long-time active members leave the site over the years, but I usually A) assume that they lost interest (especially if posting frequency went down beforehand) (e.g. ModMan :twisted: ) or B) shoot them a PM to see what's up (e.g. jfe2, jp1). I can't remember anyone actually being a VERY active long-time member and then suddenly stopping to post without somebody looking into it...

I know that there are probably a set of 10-15 posters here whose death would generate a sense of genuine sorrow or grief for me if they were to suddenly pass away. I'd like to think that this grief would be akin to a "real life" friend passing, but I don't know. In any case, I'd probably feel some sorrow about almost any of you kicking the bucket. However, given the nature of these communities, I don't know if we would ever learn of your death!

I seem to recall reading that some people have "plans for going offline" arranged in the event of their death, which include notifications for online acquaintances. I hate even thinking about that stuff and certainly don't have any of my own plans put in place - has anyone set up something with their loved ones to alert people in the online haunts they frequent? If you died today, would we ever know?

I'm also interested to hear what, if anything, you think would mark the recognition of a Racketboy forum member death. I have always thought that we are a fairly special place when it comes to online game communities - how do you think we would handle the loss of a member? Would it mirror the experiences of the forums discussed in the article, or would our memorializing have some unique character? We've previously discussed who would get your games and passing retro on but what else do you think we'd discuss in the event of your death?
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alienjesus
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by alienjesus Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:03 am

This months Retro Gamer also has a tribute to one of their forum members who passed away recently, of a heart attack. It's kind of a weird thought, no idea what I'd feel if it happened here. I certainly have no such contingents in place, but at 23, I don't have any plans for if I die. I guess I just feel too young to worry about that stuff.
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noiseredux
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by noiseredux Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:10 am

I almost hate to say I have thought about this in the past myself. And like Dave said there's a bit of a circle here that I don't just consider like "online buddies" but just refer to them as "my friend." We've never really talked about it or anything, but I assume that if anything were ever to happen to me my wife would make sure you guys knew.
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dedalusdedalus
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by dedalusdedalus Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:08 am

This is still a relatively "young" community, so we've fortunately never had to deal with this issue as of yet. I've seen this phenomenon on Neo-Geo.com, which is old enough that there's a core of members who have known each other for over a decade, and there definitely is a real sense of loss when a member passes away. This really drove home the point that online acquaintances, at the end of the day, still count for something on the family-friends-acquaintances continuum.

On a tangential note, there's also a member on Neo-Geo.com who's on trial for murder. I wonder what the odds are of that happening here.
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BoringSupreez
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by BoringSupreez Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:28 am

When I write my will, I'm going to include the logins for my forum accounts and instruct that whoever takes care of business after I die post a message stating what happened.
prfsnl_gmr wrote:There is nothing feigned about it. What I wrote is a display of actual moral superiority.
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retrosportsgamer
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by retrosportsgamer Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:31 am

One of the unfortunate symptoms of this is that the news is always delayed. I experienced this on another message board I posted at for many many years (it was a fantasy football site (12 years old at this point), but many small groups of close "real-life" friends popped up in the "Free for all" section where football was hardly discussed. I still see those guys at least once a year).

A popular member there had stopped posting so his name was googled by his friends and they found a newspaper article on his passing. There were avatar tributes along with a long tribute thread. It was very sad considering the circumstances.
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Luke
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by Luke Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:35 am

It wasn't a game forum, but a forum member I considered a friend on Kevin Smith's now defunct Newsaskew.com site killed his girlfriend and himself. This was while I was still in undergrad. Quite some time ago*, so my memory is a bit fuzzy but I believe the initial reaction was utter shock but after time it became a running joke with a bunch of the forum members.


-BS- Don't write your own will, and don't put your passwords in it. Create a separate document with your accounts and log ins and give it to someone you trust with your life.




*Malcolm Xerxes killed his girlfriend and self in 2005, and I was in grad school, not undergrad.
Menegrothx
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by Menegrothx Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:45 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHJVolaC8pw
This is the only example of real life death in a video game community that I know of. :lol:

Of course you wouldn't want to do anything like that on a forum like this, but given the context (and choice of song), that's pretty hilarious. Server communities actually existed and were very close-knit back then, so I doubt there was any malice towards that person in the video.
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dedalusdedalus
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by dedalusdedalus Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:16 pm

Aside from stipulations in your will outlining people to contact in case of death, I've heard about programs that will automatically email a list of people in case of your death.

The way these programs work is that they send you an email once every month or so, and you click on a link to confirm that you're still alive. If you fail to click on that link, an email goes out to your contact list.
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Luke
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Re: Real Death in Online Game Forum Communities

by Luke Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:35 pm

dedalusdedalus wrote:The way these programs work is that they send you an email once every month or so, and you click on a link to confirm that you're still alive. If you fail to click on that link, an email goes out to your contact list.



That's one of the most ridiculous "programs" I've heard of.

"For a fee we want all of your email contact data, annoy you once a month, and may perhaps send an email blast to everyone you know falsely stating you died".

Who would want that, and who would want to break the news with an email?

Fw: Your friend Chuck is dead, do not reply.
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