Gaming communities can be tight-knit and far-reaching, touching places and lives some might never expect. Today, the recent deaths of four people at the American Embassy in Libya are being felt in a very different world: the galactic sandbox of EVE Online.
Sean Smith, a Foreign Service Information Management Officer in Benghazi, was among those killed. Smith was known in EVE as “Vile Rat”, a prominent member of the GoonSwarm alliance and a renowned diplomat according to Alex Gianturco, better known as “The Mittani.”
Gianturco posted an obituary on his blog, saying Smith had been in hairy situations before while serving in Baghdad in 2007 and 2008, but he always come back.
“He would be on jabber, then say something like ‘incoming’ and vanish for a while as the Kayatushas came down from Sadr City,” Gianturco wrote.
Before the attack happened, Gianturco said Smith had a feeling something was up, posting this in chat: “(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
A short time later, he posted “GUNSHOTS,” and didn’t come back online.
Gianturco said Smith, who also served as a player-elected representative on EVE‘s Council of Stellar Management, had a profound effect on the political alliances inside the game. He acted as a spy in several instances, helping lead to alliances and political shifts in EVE‘s dangerous nullsec regions.
“If you play this stupid game, you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by Vile Rat’s talent as a diplomat,” he said. “No one focused as relentlessly on using diplomacy as a strategic tool as VR… He had the vision and the understanding to see three steps ahead of everyone else – in the game, on the CSM, and when giving real-world advice.”
Many players and corporations in the game renamed ships or stations in memory of Vile Rat. CCP spokesperson Ned Coker sent out the following statement to Mashable.com:
“I can tell you that CCP and its employees are overwhelmingly saddened by the news of Sean Smith’s passing, as we are when we learn of any player who is tragically lost. Many of us interacted with him professionally and personally and, honestly, it feels like our words are lost-adrift amongst such a tremendous, soul-affirming outpouring from the EVE community.”
Smith is survived by a wife and two children. He was 34 years old.
[ Images via EVE, Facebook ]