The loss of a family member, a loved one, or a friend is never something that is easy to deal with, nor is it something that most people like to talk about.  However, death is a fact of life, and something that is rarely ever discussed in the realm of online gaming.  The only time I have seen death discussed in regards to gaming is either when someone decides to play themselves to death (by not sleeping/eating/drinking for days), or the occasional in-game funeral for a fallen friend.

While I have never personally experienced the death of one of my online friends, I do know that if one of them were to slip into the shadows, I would want to know.  Which brings about the question, if you were to pass away, how would you want your online friends to be informed about your passing?

After reading an article recently about an in-game funeral, I have pondered this, and have decided that like so many other aspects of life, "it depends" is once again the best response to this question, because it really does depend on both your personal life (Are you single or married? Do you have a will? Have you been experiencing any illness?) as well as your relationship with your online community (How well do you know each other? Have you been interacting with each other for a long time?).

If you are or have been experiencing any illness or disease which would be life threatening, and are relatively close with your online community, I would suggest informing them of the situation, at least in part, so that they are not caught off-guard should something happen.  If you are married or have children, it may be beneficial to discuss with them what you would want done if you were to pass away.

While it may sound almost morbid to discuss these topics, it is very much similar to preparing your last will and testament (and could likely be included as part of your will, if you have one), and is intended to make your passing easier for your loved ones.  Some things you might want to consider are the following:
  1. Of your online friends, which ones would you want to inform? (As many people as possible, or only the ones you interact with on a regular basis, like your guild or raid group?)
  2. Who from your real life community would you want to inform your online friends? (Wife, siblings, real life friend, etc.)
  3. Which method of communication would you want used to inform your online friends? (Posting on a website, Twitter, Facebook, VoIP (i.e. Ventrilo, Teamspeak, Mumble)).
  4. When would you like to have your friends informed of your passing? (Immediately after passing? A week or so after passing?)
  5. What would you want to have done with your online account? (Cancel the account all together? Sell the account (which is against the ToS)?)
  6. If you have any in-game wealth, would you want it distributed to the members of your community?
  7. Would you want an in-game funeral?

Personally, because I am married, I would prefer to take the burden of telling my online friends off the shoulders of my wife, as I would expect her to have other things on her mind.  Instead, I would want one of my brothers to let my friends know via either our guild website, or via whichever VoIP software we are using (which is Mumble if you are curious), as soon as possible after my passing. This is partially because they are more familiar with technology than my wife, especially when it comes to VoIP software, and because I think they would be able to relate to my online community better.

As far as my account is concerned, I would prefer to have as many of my belongings as possible sold off, and the resulting wealth distributed amongst my friends.  This way, I would be able offer them a small bit of joy in the midst of the sadness.  I would not, however, wish to have an in-game funeral, as that would bring about sadness from both my online community, and unnecessary sadness for the person that would have to play my character for the event.  Instead, if my friends wanted to honor my memory in some way in-game, I would much rather have a celebration.  Assuming my current WoW community, I would prefer to have fireworks, drinks, food, and dancing.

While I hope that both you and your online community never have to experience the loss of an online friend, I will pose the question: What would you like done if you were to slip into the shadows?

See you in the Shadows,
Recently, a member of my guild decided to post on our website a question inquiring about the origin of our screen/character names (sorry, it was a guild only post, so you won't be able to see their responses).  The post received an amazing response from guild members, all with their own little reason for the name.  I thought it was an interesting idea, one that could promote a sense of "family" amongst guild members, I decided to provide a post there as well.

The history of my character's name is actually a long one; one that as of today spans about 27 years.  That's right, it goes back to when I was a baby (aww, how cute, I know).  When I was a baby, I was given the nickname "Moosie" by one of my relatives.  Nobody actually recalls the reason why I was given the nickname, but many members of my family still refer to me by the name.

The nickname has followed me throughout life; when I was in middle/high school, the nickname "Moose" was used when I was participating in sports.  The reason for this: most athletes in our school were just referred to by their last name, however, I was always participating in the same sports as my older brother, he was referred to by our last name already, so I needed a nickname, so I provided one that I had for years already, and didn't mind.

When I went to college, our Community (a.k.a. Resident) Adviser wanted to know our nicknames for some door decorations.  Once again, I provided my nickname, and because we had 5 other people with the same first name (Eric) as me on my floor, it was just easier to call me by my nickname.

A short while into my freshman year of college, I began playing Counter Strike and joined a "clan" with the rest of the guys on my floor that played (I believe there were 7-8 guys total).  The name of the clan was "[Spaz]", and each of the players (except my roommate for some reason) had a screen name related to an animal of some sort (Cowz, Monkey, etc); thus, I became [Spaz]Moose.

A few years later, I was elected as president of our Residence Hall Association (and was still known by the nickname "Moose"), and was having a conversation with one of the other officers in the organization.  I was playfully teasing her about something, and she said that I was like a little devil, and began calling me "Moosifer" (which is a combination of "Moose" and "Lucifer").

After I had graduated from college, I was having difficulties finding a job, and began playing WoW.  My first character was a Tauren Hunter named Spazmoose, a continuation of my name from Counter Strike.  I didn't care for playing a hunter much at the time, and then ran into one of my former co-workers who mentioned that his guild was looking for priests.  I said that I would give it a try, and he told me to let him know when I got to level 60. 

I thought about being a healer, but didn't think it fit my play (or life) style, so I decided to turn to the darkside.  Because my character was leaning toward more fiendish things I felt that the name had to fit the character, and that "Spazmoose" just wouldn't be a good name for him.  However, I did want to stay with a similar name (so that others could find me if they wanted), so I decided to combine some of my past nicknames, resulting in "Spazmoosifer, Priest of the Shadows", and he has been my main character ever since.

Well, there you have it, that is the history of my main character's name.  Now, I ask you, "What's in a name?"

See you in the Shadows,