We reported on the closing of Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom the other day, and at the time, it seemed like business as usual -- Disney had created the virtual world for an event, and the event was over, so it was time for the world to close. But the comments thread over on this Virtual Worlds news post about the closing has to be seen to be believed: fans of this place loved it completely and are painfully heartbroken over its closing. There are tons of eloquent, emotional comments lauding VMK for its sense of community, the friends made there, and the opportunity to connect on a virtual level with other people and Disney's attractions when, for various reasons, the same can't be done in real life.
What's most amazing here is that, from these comments, it seems VMK was one of the strongest virtual communities out there. This is why we play these MMO games -- to connect with others online, to experience things that can't be experienced any other way, and to create connections that otherwise wouldn't be there. It's an amazing story -- here's an MMO that worked perfectly in terms of building community and developing social connections between players, and yet Disney chooses to close it down.
There is a petition online, with 11,000 signatures as of this writing, to keep VMK open. Disney has responded to this emotion with a short statement only saying "we hear you," and the game itself is still set to close down as planned on May 21st.