An AP story about online death-notification services ledes with a Warcraft gamer, who died mid-quest and left his bereaved daughter to find his friends and explain why he was suddenly gone.

The story is largely how death notification has changed to accommodate one's virtual friends and acquaintances. There are a number of services out there that will send automated emails and attachments if a subscriber does not check in with the site during certain spans of time (with hilarious unintended results if users go on extended vacations.)

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But in discussing things like passwords, email and online records access, it makes me wonder about the concept of online property, and if anyone's items in an MMO are presently mentioned in a will for distribution to other MMO players. And that conjures up the image of an executor reading off someone's estate, with cosplaying dwarves and aliens sitting amongst the deceased's freaked out family, pets, mistresses, etc.

Still, I can see the value of this beyond-the-grave messaging, if I was to die suddenly. I'd send one to my brother Fletch: "TAKE THE COMPUTER AND SMASH IT. DO NOT INSPECT THE HARD DRIVE. ESPECIALLY DO NOT LOOK IN THE DIRECTORY USERS/OWENSGOOD/IMAGES/BORING TAX DOCUMENTS."

Deaths of Gamers Leave their Online Lives in Limbo [AP on SFGate.com]