When I went through the Twitter feed this morning I started to read one repeated line: ”RIP Vile Rat”. Very soon I became aware that in the attack on the US Benghazi Consulate a man called Sean Smith died. He was a Director of Goonswarm, and a previous member of CSM. I spent a portion of my lunch break reading through comment threads, as hundreds of people from across the world, and from across EVE’s playerbase, came together to express condolences.
There is an oft-repeated phrase that says EVE is “just a game”. I do not happen to think it is. I had at some point intended to write a post about this aspect of EVE, but this event brings it all to the fore.
To be absolutely clear I didn’t personally know Vile Rat. I was and am a small-scale casual hisec industrialist. In many ways Vile Rat and I played very different games. I know of him however, and found his posts about EVE themselves interested even though one didn’t always agree. If he had stood for CSM7 I probably would have voted for him – indeed I went looking for his campaign platform and was disappointed to learn he was not running.
Despite that I have, at moments today, felt a remarkable sadness for the death of a man whom I did not know. EVE is the only thing linking our lives, and in EVE we were very much on opposite sides of the fence. For all that though I feel a sense of connection to this event I would not have done so otherwise. Despite not knowing Vile Rat personally, this feels personal. Not, I am sure, as intense a feeling as those who knew him better are experiencing. I think it is one of the remarkable things about EVE.
One of EVE’s great strengths that makes it more than “just a game” is its ability to form a strong community – both the many smaller and larger groupings within the game as well as the greater over-arching sense of being part of EVE. That wider community today has had one its own taken away in a cruel fashion, and it is grieving in its own way.
RIP Vile Rat. My thoughts and prayers with your family, and with those who knew you.