Even through the supposed anonymity of the internet, the greatest of friendships can be formed. Bonds so powerful that you never want to let them go, and may change your life forever, for the better. Despite the distance, despite the inability to touch and feel, you can grow as close as family to these supposed anonymous people. These individuals are more than just "internet people." They're people. In the World of Warcraft, a video game, I have found people that have truly changed me. I would not be the person I am today without them.
I've been playing WoW since launch day, and the community I've been a part of in the game has been a constant for all of these years. People have come and people have gone, but for the most part, I've played the World of Warcraft with the same names, the same faces, the same people. I'm 21 now, and I started gaming with this crew when I was 17. I can safely say I've essentially grown up with these people. We reminisce on the old days, and we realize that we've all changed quite a bit since the beginning. We've matured together, we've grown up together. People who have never had this experience, as I said before, don't understand how you can form such bonds over the internet. Some of the greatest friendships I've ever had, and ever will have, have been on the internet. Some people you will never forget, no matter where you met them. This is something I've had to think about quite a bit the last few days. Earlier this week, a member of our community passed away at the age of 27. Gregil, the lovable mage, had been with us for years. Many of us were close to him, and he was right there in everything we did. From Blackrock Depths to Molten Core to the Black Temple. He has been with us for every boss kill, and every other accomplishment of ours. Even if he was tired, or in a bad mood, or even sick, he was always willing to lend a hand. From raids to 5-mans to gearing up alts to newbies to the game, he would devote hours of his free time just to helping people. He never turned anyone away, whether that help was needed in WoW or for something else entirely. Gregil never hesitated to set aside an entire day(or three) to help members of our community troubleshoot their PC, or work the kinks out of some coding.
Gregil and I would often have long conversations about WoW lore. He adored dragons, and I vividly remember the night he came home from Blizzcon gushing about the Wrath of the Lich King news from that panel. He was more excited than I'd ever seen him, telling me every little detail. From Malygos to the mention of the proto-dragons, he left nothing out. Since then, one of the things he's wanted most out of the game was Wrath of the Lich King to be released, just so he could devour every bit of dragon lore he could find.
Gregil was infamous for his ability to fall off of just about anything in the game. The bridge in UBRS was the bane of his existence. His lack of navigational skills rivaled even my own, the two of us were always getting lost in some empty corner of a dungeon. He had a habit of falling asleep at the worst possible times(Gregil, your hat dropped! Come loot it! ...Gregil? Greg??), a habit we teased him endlessly about. Gregil loved putting on this show of being a cranky old man, but we all knew that there wasn't a friendlier person in the world.
He may have been someone that we just 'knew in a game,' but every one of us was touched by him in some way. WoW is just a game, but the people are not. The people are so much more than just random folk on the internet. The gathering of 40+ people on an island above Nagrand to honor his memory just moments after we heard the news proves this to me, and I will never forget it. I will never forget Gregil, and I hope he knows how much he meant to all of us.
Greg, we'll miss you. I'll be sure to do every single dragon related quest there is in Wrath for you. And next week, when Illidan goes down? That kill is for you, bud.
Rest well, my friend. There'll never be another man like you.