Paying Our Respects. The Top Five Times Players Held MMO Tributes for Fallen Icons
Being part of a fandom means having a connection with other fans as well as those who brought those fandoms to life, such as actors, authors, and creators. This belonging to a fandom reaches into the heart and soul of mmorpg gamers as we all love to adventure in virtual worlds with our online brethren who share similar interests. An example is that a game like Lord of the Rings Online is filled with players who love the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Being part of such a community is great for discussing what we love (and hate) about a particular fandom, but it is also a great place to support one another in our grief when an important person associated with our fandom passes away. When this happens, mmo players will instantly spread the news and begin organizing gatherings to express their condolences. Personally, I think it's great to see gamers coming together in such a time. Let's pay our final respects by listing our top five mmo tributes to fallen icons.
The first entry on our list of the top five mmo tributes to fallen icons is Star Wars: The Old Republic and Carrie Fisher. This is the most obvious choice due to the fact that Carrie Fisher just passed away a few days ago and was sadly followed by her mother. Unless you were born under a rock, you know that Carrie Fisher played the iconic Princess Leia in Star Wars. She was an integral part of the childhood for those people my age who watched the original trilogy in the theater when they first came out. Since then, she reached across generations and was last seen in Episode VII. Star Wars: The Old Republic players began to organize gatherings at Castle Organa on Alderaan in the game as soon as her death was reported, and Imperial and Republic players worked together to ensure that everybody could peaceably take part. It's amazing to see how quickly players can work together to get something done, and it's both sad and inspiring to see the multitude of players who turned out to pay their final respects to Carrie Fisher. (Please note that I say sad in only that I wish such an event did not have to occur.)
Our next item in our top five mmo tributes to fallen icons is Gary Gygax and Dungeons and Dragons Online. The entire industry of mmo games owes a tremendous debt to Gary Gygax as he (along with Dave Arneson) created the pen-and-paper role-playing game in the form of Dungeons and Dragons. These games were played by future online developers and created many features that have become integral to online gaming, such as levels, classes, and combat systems. Gary Gygax provided a voiceover narration for the Delera's Tomb series of adventures within DDO (which you can play for free here). His passing just a few years after DDO launched took gamers by surprise. Players began to instantly rally and processions were made to Delera's Tomb to show their respect. Turbine knew that they had to honor the memory of the man who breathed life into rpg games (which led to mmo games and DDO), so they erected a monument to his honor in Delera's Graveyard. Whenever I log into the game and have to venture to that zone, I make sure to stop by and pay my respects to the old master.
A passing that ripped the hearts out of many, many individuals is the subject of the next of our top five mmo tributes to fallen icons. Every Star Trek fan adored Leonard Nimoy and his portrayal of Spock as his character was the heart of the franchise. His incredible voice graces Star Trek Online in certain narrations and the congratulatory notice when a character levels. When I heard that Leonard Nimoy had died, I logged into Star Trek Online as soon as possible to express my grief with thousands of other Star Trek fans. It seemed that every hub was filled with talk of nothing else, but the main focus of player gatherings was on Vulcan, the home of his iconic Spock character. Eventually, a statue of Leonard Nimoy as Spock was placed on Vulcan, and thousands of players traveled there to pay their respects. It's an inspiring sight, and I remember players being outraged when a notorious guild decided to have some shenanigans while remembrances were being held there.
Next on our list of the top five mmo tributes to fallen icons is Superman himself - Christopher Reeve and City of Heroes. The earlier days of mmo games were populated by players who came to online gaming through pen-and-paper role-playing games, comic books, and movies. City of Heroes was filled with players who were well-versed in comic books and the few good superhero movies. At that time, only Batman and Superman were crushing the box office, and fans loved Christopher Reeve as he seemed to truly embody the character of Superman. His strength of will and character shone through as he battled his paralysis from falling off a horse. I vividly remember hearing about his death online while playing City of Heroes. I quickly logged out to verify if it was true and then jumped back into the game. A sudden memorial began to take place in Atlas Park, the central hub of the game that featured a statue of a fallen superhero, Atlas. It gave me goose bumps to see hundreds of player superheroes solemnly standing at attention and saluting. This memorial went on for days as players would come into the zone and take the place of others who had to leave the game. This event was the first exposure I had to an mmo tribute, and it remains firmly lodged in my memory.
The last of our top five mmo tributes to fallen icons is Dave Arneson and Dungeons and Dragons Online. For those who do not know, Dave Arneson was the co-creator (along with Gary Gygax) of the original Dungeons and Dragons pen-and-paper rpg, without which we probably wouldn't have the mmo games we have today. He provided some voiceover narration for adventures in the Ruins of Threnal area. His death was marked by gamers gathering together in Ruins of Threnal and later advocating for a memorial, something that was befitting the man who helped create the game that the mmo was based upon. Turbine later erected a monument to Dave Arneson in the Ruins of Threnal zone. On a side note, I was lucky enough to meet him at a historical gaming convention, and a friend of mine got to play a beta demo of DDO with him and later play a session of D&D with him. (Yes, I'm still jealous.)
As you can see, gamers are quick to come together and stage an mmo tribute when somebody important passes away. All of the people listed above have had a major impact upon their respective fandoms, from Star Wars to superheroes. It's tremendous for me to see players stop their usual daily grind and come together to express their sorrow over the death of a person who meant so much to them. While online games have become increasingly solo-friendly, the "massively multiplayer" aspect of the genre rears its head at such times as players stage mmo tributes to those who inspired and entertained us.