When You Die In Cyberspace…

Several people (including my wife) have mentioned or sent me the link to a story on Yahoo! titled, “Death Leaves Online Lives in Limbo.”

It is not so much an interesting read as an interesting reflection on the cultural implications of online communities of people who may not otherwise interact in real life.  How often have people you have played with regularly just stopped logging in?

On reading it, my mind diverged to two tangential topics.

The first was people faking their own death online.  I have twice been in guilds where somebody has mentioned they have a terminal disease, recounted their progress towards death, and have finally disappeared, only to show up again at some later date or to be outed by somebody who knows them in real life.  Have you ever had this one happen?

The second was that I am sure there must be an elaborate “can I have your stuff” joke and/or punchline in that article somewhere.  Given what we’ve all seen on forums, I’m sure I am not alone in that.

And, no, you cannot have my stuff.

5 thoughts on “When You Die In Cyberspace…

  1. Saylah

    Yes, I’ve known someone that did the “dying” thing. I knew them from a short stint in EQ1 while waiting for AC2. I’d even met them in person along with others who were all located in the midwest. One day he started with the how sick he was stories which lead to having cancer.

    Since I knew him – had met and conversed with him on the phone often, I was heart sick for him and wanted to visit him. However, he declined any of us coming to see him. A few months after he disappeared and his phone number was no longer working, we heard from thru another gaming friend that the guy was fine. he’d never been sick and was just using the story to meet chicks.

    Given that I myself had actually had cancer and was recovering from it when I started playing online games I found the whole this disgusting. I was rather naive. I didn’t think people would stoop that low. You live and learn. :-)

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  2. Kilanna

    November 07 – one of my online friends had been feeling a little poorly. He had been to the doctor and I was chatting with him on Teamspeak when the hospital phoned him with test results. Within 2 weeks he had been diagnosed with Cancer, I saw him only twice more online.

    I kept in touch with him although infrequently via email. I stopped hearing from him, and recently a family member replied to my last email – letting me know he had passed away in June.

    We have dedicated a little corner of our guild hall to his memory. RIP Jess.

    Yes – the G in MMORPG stands for game – but of course there are bonds are formed when you interact with the same people on a regular basis. I have laughed and cried with my closest in game companions too. Is there really that much difference between a guild and a game club, or sporting team, or a performing ensemble?

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  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    It is a social activity, and the only difference between it and the other things you mention is the regular physical presence.

    Once the obituaries in your local paper were enough to keep those who cared informed. Now, in the digital age, where we interact with people thousands of miles away on a regular basis, people who we may have never met in person, the infrastructure of life and death still has some catching up to do.

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  4. Kilanna

    While absolutely no substitute, webcams and Skype (or anyVOIP) bridge the gap of a regular physical presence. You get to see the body language and hear the changes in voice. Just this last weekend a friend and I sat drinking coffee and having lunch while we chatted over Skype with Video.

    Back to the topic – food for thaught though isn’t it. While there are a couple of exceptions, I would have no idea how to get in contact with even some of my closest online companions should they not log into game. I dont even know some of their surnames to even know where to start.

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  5. Pingback: My Last Gaming Will and Testament « Nerf the Cat

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