For those who are not online gamers this post will probably seem odd and frivolous and perhaps even stupid. You can all leave now, you are excused.
An activity that I have been involved in, slowly, over the course of the last 4 plus months that I have been preparing for my death is to bequeath various small items I own to people I love. Things of remembrance. I am a sentimental old woman, and I have a strong memory. I believe even my sister Denise, who knows me better than anyone, and knew I hoarded a lot of little things from various members of our family down to 3 generations back, is even surprised by the number of things I am pulling out of boxes and the number of stories I can tell just by going through a box of little things.
There are problems though in the technological age. Many things that I own are not tangible. They exist in pixelated form and only have value in imaginary worlds. But they do have value. And because I am an RPG gamer from way back, (I began playing 3rd ED DnD in 1978 ) My characters in the games I play are my most valued possessions. I made them all with great care and each has a back story and reason for everything they wear and own, and over the course of time and playing them, you adventure forth and they each have their own memories of various quests and accomplishments they have achieved. So leaving your game account to someone is kind of a big deal. The game I play (because I finally made it a rule that I will only have one MMORPG that will be my time sink online) is Guild Wars (Now Guild Wars 2) I have played this game 13 years. Being a hoarder in real life, I am also a hoarder in game. I save everything, and I am especially fond of collecting crafting materials. I finally gave in last week and went in game and gave my guild a few stacks (250 pieces is one stack) of some of my most valuable crafting materials. I should point out that because I am 59 years old and a woman I am kind of a rare thing in online gaming anyway, but also, I am not a min-maxxer and my game play usually consists of me solo going around killing things and collecting mats and occasional teaming with someone to do a few adventures. I am not a power gamer, and I have more fun exploring and goofing off than most other things.
For the first month of my illness I did not log on much. In fact before I was diagnosed, it was my deteriorating skills in negotiating my keyboard and my powers and chat in game which clued me in that something very bad was happening to my brain. I had begun to lose the power of language at this time, the ability to type, knowing the alphabet, etc. I would look down at the keyboard, recognize nothing, and just turn off the computer in frustration. However, once the steroids and the radiation kicked in and got the swelling down, I was once again able to read and write and recognize words and so I set about writing and also communicating with my friends in the only game I play: Guild Wars. And playing my characters and giving them a long last look of goodbye.
This is my ranger, her name is Sage Laurel. I have had her as a character since Guild Wars 1, and my explanation for her having the same name as my main in the original is that she is named for her great great grandmother.
This is my main character I play, Nalora. She is a guardian. I enjoy playing her because she is easy to play solo.
This is Zalez Wyvernspur. She is my warrior. I always give one character my Aunt’s name because I love her name so much.
This is Late Night Snacks, my necromancer.
This is Pinkipii, my engineer.
This is Meepers, my elementalist.
This is Datura Moonflower, my mesmer.
Old friends in make believe lands. There is also the dilemma of leaving my account to someone. They would have to respect my characters and not change or delete them. I know that sounds silly…they are just pixels. Little colored squares. But to gamers who have played the character a long time…years and years they are kind of real to you after a while.
This happened with my There.com avatar too. I gave it to one guy and then heard he was going to change her and I completely freaked out. I had actually originally thought the only person right to own my There.com avatar would be my friend Nina, but I was not sure she even got into the game any more. When I heard she was there, I took my avatar back and gave it to her, because I knew she would just keep her as she was, forever.
This is actually something I have done on the internet for a long time. Kept everything there, never erasing anything. Blogs, journals, social media. I do not delete. I leave it as internet history, for future internet archaeologists. And I only spent one year with an “online name” From the second year on I took my own name: Nalora. Because like my Aunt Zalez. I kind of like it.