I wasn’t going to remark on the passing of Sean Smith.
I saw the initial news reports about the attack on two US embassies in the Middle East, and that at least one person had died in Libya. I remember noting the excuse used for the attacks, and thought of the evil hypocrisy at play where every member of a country can be labeled a target because of the views of a tiny minority (on both sides).
Not long after the initial reports come from the Goons, suggesting the victim was one of their own. I expect I wasn’t the only one who wondered if it was just an abhorrent troll.
I had no real idea of who Vile Rat was – but I knew the name, had noted his posts in the various official and unofficial EVE forums, knew he had been on the CSM, and had seen him referenced over the years in Goon propaganda.
As the flow of related commentary swelled, I found myself checking the official news sites, waiting for them to catch up with social media and confirm the tragedy one way or the other. This was either going to turn out to be the foulest troll in EVE history, or something much worse.
We know the answer to that now.
I was surprised by the sense of sorrow I felt. I blame being a parent – ever since we had our first child my empathy levels have skyrocketed. That must have been why I could feel my eye’s glisten as I read some of the flood of eloquent posts and comments and acknowledgements of this tragedy, from those that knew Sean or his persona in game of Vile Rat.
But I still did not intend to blog on it. There was certainly nothing I could say or add which might make any positive difference to the grief so many people were obviously feeling.
Then the Online Game media started to report the reaction over Sean’s death.
Then the mainstream media started to report the same.
And then this morning I found it referenced on the front page of an Australian news site.
Sean’s death was borne from simpleton hate, yet has been responded to with a community outpouring of care and respect. It is such a contrast, and gives hope where you might have only found despair.
The fact this has reached the mainstream media means that for many more people around the world, Sean’s death will not just be a statistic, but will instead give them pause and a sense of reality about it.
It also highlights EVE, its communities, friendships, and the importance of the connections made in this MMO. For the last six months I’ve felt there has been a real sense of bigotry in the game – a selfish focus of people only interested in their version of the game. This atrocious event reminds me both in and out of game, that the majority of people are decent.
And that is why I have awkwardly remarked on it.
RIP Sean “Vile Rat” Smith.