I few year or so ago, maybe two, I worte a blog about "gamer friends", and how something that many people think is a "anit-social" hobby, can lead to life long friends that you look forward to talking with every day. I went on to talk about a great article that I found (the link to that article is now broken)that brought up the subject of having a contact list of your gamer friends that you can give to your mom, dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, in the event that something happend to you. This list would be used to send emails, post a blogor call people to let them know of your situation if you couldnot do it yourself.
It's a sad, depressing subject, but I feel a necessary one it in todays world where you might know a handful of people, that you really only talk to online. What would happen, or how would you feel if suddenly one of those people just stopped showing up online in games that you play together, or in forums that you always post in? Not knowing what has happened to someone is a terrible feeling.
During the course of the past 15yrs I have made some AWESOME, lifetime friends via video games, and sites like Gamespot. When I say awesome, I mean friends that come to visit, friends that I go visit, friends that I talk to via LIVE almost every single night when I am home. I, in a way, grew up, and lived life with some of these people. I know where they grew up, I know where they live, what they do for a living, have shared laughs, crys in good times and bad. I know their kids, borthers, sisters, and in some cases their parents. Long story short, they are a very important part of my life, these "virtual friends".
I bring this up today because I recently (this past Monday) got back from a very nice vacation and was looking forward to getting on LIVE Tuesday evening to chat it up with the two people that I have been playing wtih almost every night for the past 15 yrs. Our relationships started in the way way way back during PC games where all you could do was type messages. Voice chat programs came out and we then had a chance to talk, where we really started to know each other. We played Half-Life, DoD, NASCAR, C&C, StarCraft and uncountable other titles. With the release of the Xbox360 we have spent countless hrs screaming, yelling and laughing at each other, the entire time still getting to know each other like family.
I signed in to LIVE at our normal start time of 8pm and sure enough, one of my buddies was already on, waiting in a chat room. We BS'd for a little while, waiting for a third buddy before we would dive into our nightly hockey game. Time passed, the third was a no-show. This is a little odd for him, but not unheard of as sometimes he is a little late. After about 30 minutes of talking politics and vacation stuff I asked buddy #1 if he heard from buddy #2, his response was this.... "no, I have not seen him on at all in the past 6 nights".
This immediately caused me some alarm as I know buddy #2 schedule like the back of my hand, I know he had no vacations planned, and I know he does not travel for work. Barring a complete lack of internet on his end, there was no reason for him not to be on with us.
I told buddy #1 to hold on, as I sent buddy #2 a quick text to see if he would be joining us. The response I got back was a sucker punch directly to my face.
Buddy #1 was lying in the hospital, waiting for surgery that was already scheduled for the following morning. It turns out, the night I left for vacation he had gotten extremely sick and was rushed to the hospital. Two days later he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which has spread to his bones and lungs. Yesterday he had a Kidney removed, but the prognosis for him is bleak at best. People in his situation based on what they now know,, do not have much time left.
This will be the third gamer buddy, extended family loss I have experienced in the last 10 yrs.
What I am trying to say is this, please make sure you create a contact list of your gamer friends so they can be contacted in the event of something like this. It would have killed me to not had a chance to speak with him again just because of something as simple as a list not being made, or a phone # not being exchanged.
Hopefully in the next two weeks I will be traveling once again to meet my friend, maybe to see a movie with him, maybe a baseball game, maybe to just sit and share stories. The only thing I actually know, it will be to say goodbye.