When words seem insufficient, the impulse to give, and to give generously, often appears. Helping to provide for someone's family is one of very few concrete actions that mourners can take from such a distance. Offers to donate to a fund in Smith's name have flown far and wide, and Something Awful moderators have been in touch with his widow to organize one.


Less tangible, but no less heartfelt, gestures have appeared throughout Eve Online. At least two hundred (and counting) in-game outposts, player-made space stations that provide certain services, have been renamed in honor of Smith. Not only the stations owned by his own group, the Goonswarm Federation, but also outposts belonging to a significant array of ally and rival corporations as well.

"His legend lives on, RIP VR"
"RIP Vile Rat"
"In Honor of Sean-VR"

Eve Online, and particularly the Goon players in it who met on Something Awful, is not known for being a warm, caring, supportive community, at least not from the outside. We more often hear of trolls and exploits, or of players trying hard to wreck the economy just to see if they can. It's an environment that would not necessarily seem to be the grounds in which a diplomatic soul could thrive. And yet, Smith did.


The posts he left show a thoughtful campaigner, able to lay his point of view cleanly on the table and debate it. They also show a forum wrangler, one who could play dirty kickball with the best of them, and give as good as he got. Most of us would wish for our better arguments to be our last words. Smith didn't get to plan. The last post he left on the Eve Online forums was a quippy one-liner: "What this guy said, except I don't actually mean it." More chilling are the last words he said to Jabber chat:

(2:40:22 PM) vile_rat: FUCK
(2:40:24 PM) vile_rat: gunfire

The communities Smith was a part of have rallied as best they possibly can against the tragic, violent loss of one of their own. For all that the game and the Goons who play it have developed a negative reputation, today they have manifested genuine mourning, with warmth and a sense of mutual support that we should all be lucky enough to find.


Those of us who dwell in online communities or multiplayer games leave a second self behind us, a digital life bobbing along in our pixellated wake. Too often, it takes a tragic loss to make us think about the true people behind the avatars we know. A set of internet artifacts left behind by a soul cut off too young becomes a pile of last words frozen in time—fossilized conversations, hauntingly unfinished, that linger forever.

(Top photo: Sean Smith, via Daily Mail)