Things got very real for an online community of Final Fantasy XIV players in early April when one of their own contracted the novel coronavirus and died of complications related to the COVID-19 disease.
The tight-knit community of gamers couldn’t exactly gather in person to mourn their fallen comrade, who went by the name Ferne Le’roy on the role-playing game’s Zalera server. Many of the gamers had never met her in person, and now they were all locked down in their homes around the globe.
So they did the next best thing and honoured her where they knew her best: in their online world.
Hundreds of players logged on at the same time, equipped their digital avatars with black clothing and umbrellas, then marched in a funeral procession through the online fantasy world in a touching tribute to their friend on April 11, according to video and posts on social media.
“I didn’t expect anyone to actually show up,” one of the march’s Facebook organizers, who goes by Leafelda Moonchild online, told the tech site Inverse.
“I made the post so that those that may have known her would be informed. The fact that so many people showed up, not only from Zalera but from other servers, really took me by surprise.”
The original funeral post simply announced Ferne Le’roy’s death and asked people to show up for a tribute on a Saturday afternoon.
“One of our own was lost to COVID-19,” the post read on Facebook. “Now’s the time to show up and show out for a fallen Zalera player … Remember the fallen, or no one else will.”
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The funeral lasted for nearly an hour as players marched across the online world of the game to a large, picturesque tree for Ferne Le’roy’s final send-off. The video has since been shared online from the community’s Facebook page.
One video of the procession racked up more than 106,000 positive reactions and comments on Reddit Monday, where many users marvelled at the community’s touching gesture.
“That world may be virtual but the sentiment isn’t,” one user wrote in the comments section. “What an incredible thing to do.”
It’s not the first time gamers have held a funeral in a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) like Final Fantasy 14. But the sheer number of people who reportedly showed up is remarkable.
Video game analyst Daniel Ahmad hailed the incident as a demonstration of “the power of video games” on Twitter.
“Although this was very emotional event, seeing everyone there for her memorial was very moving and beautiful.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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