It's 10 pm. Do you know where you and your loved ones are? Here is a collection of experiences from those who live / have lived with an obsessive MMOG gamer and from those who have lived the experience of obsessive MMOG gaming.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Things not to do.
A 21-year-old American online gaming fan broadcast his suicide on a Bulgarian Internet forum.... switched on his web cam and swallowed a large amount of motor antifreeze and pills after complaining about family problems and a lack of money...
(from Yahoo!News)

Just know the truth: That your "buddies" online will be shocked and perhaps feel even a little bit of guilt but are sure to move on to new topics in a short matter of time and forget that you've ever even been online. It's not worth wasting your life over that.


January 19: The above story was apparently completely fabricated, according to his roommate and several other friends from the forum (see the comments and this article or this one). So my apologies for posting this false story. On the other hand, I thought about the request to remove this post and I personally would prefer leaving this up, showing how easy it is to read news stories online and assume it's true, and at the same time keep the discussion open about this kind of topic. Because - in all honesty - it didn't surprise me when I read it. Would it surprise you?

I had an online friend from Everquest a few years back, someone I would exchange messages with (via game board) on an daily / weekly basis. He was only in his early 20s and living his life with reckless abandon... including drugs, booze, gaming, just everything. He felt at odds with his environment, his family, life in general. One day he told me that he might die from ODing himself - he sounded as if he had given up on life. Well, I never heard from him again. I don't know what happened to him. All I have is his first name, a link to a few pictures that he sent and his email. I've tried to track him down, searching with the few information bits I had, emailing him, checking if he had been online at the board, with no luck. To this day I wonder what happened to him.

The tricky thing about online friendships is that you can never be exactly sure what is going on unless you go beyond the online identity. In the above case, there were people who knew him in real life, people who knew enough about his identity in real life to follow up and demonstrate their friendship beyond the Internet. I am not sure how often that is the case.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It had nothing to do with wanting attention. The information in that story is entirely incorrect. Please do a little bit more research. You know nothing about this incident, so please refrain from mocking it.

I was his roomate in college.

Jan 19, 2006, 11:13:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anathema said...

How dare you claim to know anything about this! I was one of his friends and a member of metalgearsolid.org. And on that note, how dare claim that we don't care! Every single one of us are working around the clock right now just trying to bring back what little honor and respect we can to Mitchell after this HORRIBLY unresearched news article (and all the others) was released and made public around the world!

Do some research or don't dare claim you know anything about the situation.

http://news.gaminghorizon.com/media2/1137635340.3198.html thisis the truth. Read it.

Jan 19, 2006, 12:09:00 PM

 
Blogger Bogart said...

You fail at punditry.

Jan 19, 2006, 1:06:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am a member from TUS.

The news and the media have begun their little rampages on the true story that can be seen from the following sites;

http://news.gaminghorizon.com/media2/1137635340.3198.html
http://digg.com/gaming/Gamer_Commits_Suicide,_Media_Misreports
http://www.warcry.com/scripts/columns/view_sectionalt.phtml?site=15&id=108&colid=8902
http://gaming-age.com/news/2006/1/19-39
http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/19/1734229
http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=57987

There was, in fact, no broadcast of the suicide.

There were no events that we did not claim to beleive Mitchell 7 hours before the events.

Jan 19, 2006, 1:28:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little research can go a long way. Mitchell's death has been the target of pisspoor journalism and a definite lack of research. It's a disgrace to see such a thing banded about the internet like it's the next fad.

Jan 19, 2006, 1:41:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are you going to take back your incredibly stupid and insensitive remarks or are you going to ignore all these posts as if they never happened?

Jan 19, 2006, 3:44:00 PM

 
Blogger J said...

I have no problem removing this post. I was looking around to see if I can see more news postings on this but at that time Yahoo!News was the only one. So my apologies if the story was misrepresented. Then again, it's interesting to see your reactions.

Jan 19, 2006, 4:07:00 PM

 
Blogger J said...

oh, here's my question to you out there who corrected me - why would the news media make up the details and claim this? Is it purely to write something sensational, was it a misunderstanding, or?

As for my comments, although it is not be true in your situation, I have been part of online funerals etc. on Everquest about people I've played with or know through others... so I'm not saying that in blind.

Jan 19, 2006, 4:16:00 PM

 
Blogger J said...

Ok, I had to clean up the last comment... so in less upper case letters and any expletives. This isn't my opinion, btw - I don't think that anyone, not even family or friends can be made responsible for failing to stopping someone from committing suicide. Someone determined enough will find a way, and blaming others doesn't solve the issue.

"Goons Goons Goons Goons

The kid is dead and his RL friends who are goons are responsable

How could you have not seen the warning signs? He was your RL friend and you didn't know he was horribly depressed"

Jan 19, 2006, 7:14:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anathema said...

Thank you.

Jan 19, 2006, 10:18:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anathema said...

As for why the news falsified the information. Some random guy that worked for our howt claimed he knew what was going on and that he was a forum adminitrator for metalgearsolid.org and there fore made them believe he knew. So, instead of researching anything they up and post the article after filling in the holes with made up information.

As for how we handled the situation. We'd been helping him out for a long time but in november he stopped talking about his problems; we though he was getting better. He commited suicide with litterally only a moments warning.

We did everything we could do but it wasn't enough.

Jan 19, 2006, 10:24:00 PM

 
Blogger J said...

Thanks for responding, I appreciate it.

I believe that you tried the best you can to dissuade him from his self-destructive thoughts and actions.

It's hard enough for anyone to do that in the physical world, but being able to have a real impact through the wire? How realistic is it to hope to change someone's decision purely by typed out words or, in the best case scenario, over the phone or webcam? It frightens me to think that we as human beings may one day simply assume that we can take our existence online without losing something in the process.

Nick Yee in his 2003 study reported that "About 40% of players feel that their online friends are comparable or even better than their real life friends…. about 30% of MMORPG players have told personal issues or secrets to online friends that they have never told anyone else.”

There is a limit to how good anyone can be as an online friend. I tried and failed miserably, and to this day I wish I had known him in rl because I would have done much better as a friend.

Jan 20, 2006, 3:24:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anathema said...

I'm sorry that you were not able to help your friend. That was a really sad story you told in the article. Though I honestly can't ffully agree that there are limits to the extent that an online friendship can take.

No, if someone is in trouble like mitch was, we can't physically interceed to stop them but as emotional support there are no limits so long as both parties veiw the friendship equally. It really does vary from person to person.

In some case, yes it is hard to get as close as you'd like to get but in other cases the friendship can be phenomenal. Just like offline. I have close friends both on and offline and I value them all equally.

But, there's something to be said about online friendships. In them you cannot go out to the movies and stare at a screen, you can't hang out at the mall, you can't hang out with someone and never get to know them as is the case with most offline friendships. Yes, you can play online games with them but to keep up a friendship online it must be based almost intirely out of conversation. In this way, you get to know the person inside and out. I know some of my online friends better than my offline ones for this simple fact.

Again, I'm deeply sorry that you went through that. A friend is still a friend, no matter the distance between them.

Jan 20, 2006, 10:15:00 PM

 
Blogger Dave said...

I'm not impressed by your implication that online friendships have more meaning because they're based more on conversations.

You've heard about people who talk a lot but say nothing, right? That's one reason I don't buy your argument. There's also the idea that body language, physical contact and just somebody's nearby presence can say much more sometimes than mere words.

And I'm not buying into your idea that online conversations let you know a person inside and out. If all you know about a person is what they choose to tell you in computer chat, you don't really know that person. All you know is what they've chosen to tell you, which all too often reflects things that they're trying to delude you about and/or deluding themselves about. It's amazing to me how many people out there say that online relationships are more honest and heartfelt when the reality is that it's far easier to pretend to be someone you're not on the internet (like MMORPG'ers often do) than in person where body language, tone of voice and other cues can give you away. Not to mention that someone's identity and other important things worth knowing about somebody are far easier to independently verify by having contact with someone offline rather than purely online. How many times have we heard about somebody who was surprised to discover that the online love of their life was actually someone of the opposite gender?

If you feel like deluding yourself on this point, Anathema, I certainly can't stop you. But I'll say it once and I'll say it a thousand times if I have to... there *are* limits to the extent that an online friendship can take.

Feb 15, 2006, 7:11:00 PM

 

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