One of the best qualities of MMOs is in the community aspect. People have been playing together and becoming friends and associates in virtual worlds for decades now. Recently, in late August, a dedicated DayZ player and US Marine, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, was killed in a bombing in Afghanistan. That community recently gathered to pay tribute to McCollum because not only was he a young soldier tragically killed, he was one of them.
In a video titled, “A salute, and thank you, for Rylee” also shared by the DayZ team, a line of fellow DayZ players line up and perform a series of salutes to honor him. McCollum was 20 years old and left behind a wife and a child born just two weeks after he was killed, and the tribute within the community and around it also included ways to help support his family as well.
MMO communities have paid tribute to players that have died before, and sometimes in the most touching of ways. Even a simple gesture, as in this DayZ video, when people simply turned out to show a presence for someone who also enjoyed the same community they belong to, is one of those real assets. Even developers occasionally create tributes that last for some time beyond the events that sparked their presence.
DayZ is a game about survival, reliance on each other in a world that has seen some real horrors, and this sort of display coming from people who have lived the fictional world together, shouldn’t surprise anyone. For those of us who have spent not-insignificant numbers of hours in MMOs and other online spaces, that other people can touch our lives isn’t a new concept, but it’s always significant when a community comes together for something that really touches lives.