I use to support an online multiplayer role playing game here at work. Customers would call in and complain about the billing or and/or comment on the game. Most of the time I would get calls from people who would want to cancel their kids or spouses accounts claiming they were either spending too much time with the game and neglecting school, work, and their families.
I've never played any of these games, nor do I have any interest in them. I prefer to play multiplayer games with friends while they are physically present, basically within striking distance. It's more fun for me that way and the banter that is raised during gaming like that can be hilarious. For many hours my friends and I would play Mario Kart or Goldeneye taunting each other with phrases that would mean nothing to anyone outside our small gaming circle.
I heard a lot of messed up stories from online gamers while supporting the game. Many customers would complain about their significant others leaving them for someone they met while playing the game. Parents would bitch at me about their children skipping school to play. I even had someone's boss call me and ask me if I could cancel the account and make sure his employee could never play again.
These gamers seem to be creating their own reality and enjoy the social interaction. They get to meet various people all over the world as well as hide behind the threshold of anonymity. They can be anyone they want to be in the online world and in extreme cases it can destroy their lives.
Recently a player in World of Warcraft (WoW) died in real life. A friend of his logged into his account and set up a funeral in the game where players can pay respects to their fallen friend. While this seemed silly to me at first look I actually think now this is kind of touching. There are many people I communicate with on this blog who I'll probably never see or talk to in real life. If one of them died I would have no means of attending a real memorial service seeing as I have no method of contacting their families. Even if I did it would seem kind of strange showing up and telling their friends that I only knew them through the computer. I probably wouldn't even be aware that they did pass on thinking that they just stopped blogging. Players in online games seem to form a strong bond with each other so I guess a memorial service is not so ridiculous.
Many players showed up to this online funeral and mourned the player as best they could. In a stunning display of jackassery another large group of players ambushed the service catching the mourners with their guards down. They proceeded to kill off every character in attendance.
Now as stupid as this online funeral seems I would be pissed as hell if I were mourning someone and some jackass decided to somehow disrupt this. To the online gamers this must seem as despicable as the Rev Fred Phelps. The assholes made a video of this, which you can see hear.
As sick as this is maybe the mourners learned something. These games are taken way to seriously and they cannot expect the anonymous world of the web to respect each other. Anyone who's done any amount of simple communication, such as newsgroups or blogging, would know this. Perhaps funerals are best held in real life. Know where to draw the line between fantasy and reality, cause really it's just a game.
"I hope azshira's dad dies of a heart attack, then at that funeral some guy runs in naked and pushes the coffin over and runs around slapping people screaming LOL OWNED then releases a video of it." - Anonymous critic of the ambushers.
WoW... An Online RPG Funeral Gets Ambushed
Update: Apparently these funerals are nothing new. Here's one for a girl who neglected her health to play WoW and payed the ultimate price.
Funeral in World of Warcraft