Sean Smith is one of the named fatalities in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. It has since come out that Smith, a father of two and 10 year Foreign Service Officer, goes by the online name “Vile Rat” in EVE Online, a popular online video game. When news broke about his death, an outpouring of support and emotions flooded sites including Reddit.
Alex Gianturco, a long-time friend and the leader of Smith’s guild in EVE Online, called him a “dedicated public servant who was extremely influential within his community.” Smith used his diplomatic skills not just offline, but online, shaping the game in ways that are still felt today in how he interacted with other players and his involvement in events that have shaped that world. Many within the game showed their respect. One commenter said:
We are more than a community, we are a family and when news of tragedy hits, we know to set aside our differences in game and mourn together as people.
Gianturco closes his post:
I’m clearly in shock as I write this as everything is buzzing around my head funnily and I feel kind of dead inside. I’m not sure if this is how I’m supposed to react to my friend being killed by a mob in a post-revolutionary Libya, but it’s pretty awful and Sean was a great guy and he was a goddamned master at this game we all play, even though a lot of people may not realize how significant an influence he had. It seems kind of trivial to praise a husband, father, and overall badass for his skills in an internet spaceship game but that’s how most of us know him, so there you go.
For those who might condemn video games or make fun of the “geeks” out there, realize many are protecting our freedoms every day, and unfortunately some give their lives for that protection.
Image via themittani.com.
Update: The Entertainment Consumers Association, an non-profit membership organization that represents consumers of interactive entertainment in the US and Canada, released a statement by Jennifer Mercurio, Vice President and Counsel
What has happened in Libya is a tragedy by any measure. Its sadness strains us as Americans and humans.
That one of our own was taken from us, that he was one of the most eloquently ambassadorial voices in the gaming worlds, who used his real world diplomatic training to bring peace within EVE, strikes an even deeper chord within the gaming world. We at ECA send our deepest condolences to all of the families of the victims of this wretched event.
Full Disclosure: Brett Schenker is a consultant for the ECA
Update 2: Wired’s Danger Room has a great piece about Smith, his impact and how the gaming and online community are reacting to the loss.