5 In Game Memorials

by Tyler Edwards, Nov 28, 2012

Sometimes, MMOs aren't all fun and games. Amidst all the pretty graphics and epic combat, we sometimes forget that our fellow players are also real people with real lives, with all the joy and tragedy that entails. But sometimes, we are reminded. Sometimes, a memorable player leaves this world too soon, and their loss is felt by all within the MMO community. In these cases, developers may choose to immortalize these departed individuals with in game memorials. This list will chronicle some of the more touching memorials within the world of MMOs.

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5: Sanctum of Rall, Guild Wars 2:

Roger "Oldroar" Rall was a gamer of great stature. A member a of a gaming community known as the Gaiscioch, he was famed for leading hundreds of players into battle over the course of many years and many games, including Warhammer Online and Rift.

Like many of us, Roger became fascinated by Guild Wars 2, believing it to be the perfect MMO he'd always waited for. He learned everything he could about the game and planned to lead his many fellow gamers to Tyria once the game launched. Tragically, though, Roger died suddenly before the game's release.

His fellow gamers were not content to led Oldroar fade from memory, though. They launched a major grassroots effort to immortalize him by naming a Guild Wars 2 server in his honor. They contacted developers, staged letter writing campaigns, and even conducted a "CookieZerg," sending thousands of cookies to ArenaNet's offices to get their attention.

At last, their efforts won out as ArenaNet announced the creation of the Sanctum of Rall server. The Gaiscioch now proudly call this server home and seek to continue Roger's legacy by providing a strong and welcoming gaming community.

The Sanctum isn't the only memorial to Roger ArenaNet slipped in, though. On all servers, there is an NPC in the Black Citadel named Historian Goshkia, who tells the tale of a great warrior named Tribune Rall Oldroar.

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4: Coyote, City of Heroes:

Mathew Bragg, AKA Coyote, was an NPC superhero in City of Heroes. Chosen by Old Man Coyote as his avatar on Earth, Coyote was a friendly hero with a strong sense of humor and great skill in instructing other superheroes. Over the game's history, he appeared in various capacities during tutorials for new players, offering missions and advice.

Coyote was a memorial to a real man, also named Mathew Bragg. Under the name of Kiyotee, he was a regular on the official forums for City of Heroes prior to the game's release. He was known for being a very helpful member of the community, showing particular kindness to newcomers.

Sadly, Mr. Bragg passed away shortly after the game's release. Some time later, the developers of CoH chose to honor this departed member of their community by creating Coyote as in game memorial to him. They made him a tutorial NPC to echo the assistance the real Mathew Bragg had given to new members of the game's community.

Unfortunately, with the closing of CoH, Coyote will be vanishing along with the rest of the game's universe. However, just as the real Mathew Bragg's memory will always live on in the minds of his friends and family, Coyote will always be remembered by the many thousands of CoH players he assisted over his digital life.


3: Crusader Bridenbrad, World of Warcraft:

Crusader Bridenbrad is an NPC in World of Warcraft's Icecrown zone. He is introduced as a great hero of the Argent Crusade, who selflessly saved many lives during a terrible battle. But in the process of this heroic act, he contracted the plague of undeath, dooming himself to a painful death and a transformation into one of the very monsters he had spent his life fighting.

The Argent Crusade's leader, Tirion Fordring, refuses to let Bridenbrad suffer this fate. He sends players on an epic quest chain literally to the ends of the world and beyond, beseeching all the great powers of the Warcraft universe to save the crusader: from the Dragon Aspects to the angelic Naaru of Outland. But each potential cure serves only to delay Bridenbrad's death a few more hours.

What players who run this quest chain for the first time might not realize is that it was created to memorialize a real person. Bradford Bridenbecker was the brother of Blizzard Entertainment employee Robert Bridenbecker and an avid WoW player. After his untimely death from cancer in 2007, his brother asked Chris Metzen, WoW's lead writer, to write a tribute to him in game. The result is one of the most heartfelt, well written, and moving storylines in Warcraft history.

Ultimately, the Bridenbrad chain ends on a bittersweet note. Players fail to save the crusader's life, but as he passes, the Naaru appear and declare that the Light does not abandon its champions. They grant their blessing, allowing Bridenbrad to ascend to paradise and escape the nightmare of undeath.


2: Ahab Wheathoof and others, World of Warcraft:

Ezra Chatterton was a little boy who loved to play World of Warcraft on his Tauren hunter, Ephoenix. He also, sadly, suffered from a terminal case of brain cancer. Blizzard Entertainment partnered with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to fulfill Ezra's dream of creating a character for his favorite game, flying him to Blizzard's offices in California.

There, Ezra received a tour of the Blizzard facilities and helped to design a short quest for the Tauren starting area, in which players help a farmer named Ahab Wheathoof find his lost dog. Ezra also provided the voiceover for the character.

Blizzard wasn't finished treating Ezra, though. They also awarded him the world first Ashes of Al'ar phoenix mount, the phoenix being Ezra's personal symbol. That mount is a rare drop from what was, at the time, a very difficult raid boss, and to this day, it remains one of the rarest and most coveted mounts in the game, so being awarded the first was a great honor.

Ezra also asked the Blizzard developers to design an item for him, a crossbow based on his phoenix symbol. The result was the Merciless Gladiator's Crossbow of the Phoenix. It bears the flavor text, "Finely crafted to Ephoenix's specification."

Ezra passed away in October of 2008, and huge swathes of the World of Warcraft community offered their condolences. After that, Blizzard added one more memorial to little Ezra. During the Lunar Festival in game holiday, the world is covered by spirits called elders, and since 2009, the elder in Thunder Bluff, the Tauren home city, has borne the name Ezra Wheathoof.


1: Ribbitribbit, Everquest II:

Ribbitribbit was the in game name of John Hoover, a six year old EverQuest 2 player who had struggled with numerous health issues since his premature birth. By age six, his body was riddled with cancer, and he was given mere weeks to live.

One of the few pleasures left to poor John was running around the world of Norrath. His mother, Carri, bought him a private instance in the game - an island - to play in, but it was a meager place, with just a little space and some greenery. She wanted more for her son in his dying days, so she made a request on the official forums for some help in sprucing up the island.

She got more than she bargained for, in the best way possible.

Over the next few days, the community on her server mobilized like nothing ever seen in an MMO before or since. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of players rallied together to farm platinum and trade goods to construct a virtual wonderland for Ribbitribbit. An entire guild was set up and power leveled through hours of raiding and grinding to give little John his own guild hall. The hall was one of many instances created for John, all decorated with everything a child could want - right down to a rollercoaster.

Players of all stripes came together to create this wonderful treat for a dying child. Soloists, raiders, crafters, and more all came together to contribute to the effort. Reportedly, some of the players involved didn't even speak English. Sony Online Entertainment, the developer of EverQuest 2, got involved as well, promoting the effort through official channels.

After a remarkably short span of time, it all culminated in a huge online party as Ribbitribbit's new virtual playground was unveiled to him, much to his delight. Everyone from John's family members, to complete strangers who had contributed to the effort, to game masters and SOE employees attended, holding a bittersweet celebration that provided a rare bright note in a very dark time for the Hoover family.

MMOs, and online communities in general, have a reputation as being bereft of human decency, and all too often, this stereotype proves accurate. But stories like this remind us that MMO players are still people with honor and compassion, and still capable of great acts of kindness.

John Hoover died peacefully in his sleep just a few weeks after the unveiling of his virtual playground.