Posted on January 24, 2008, William Virginia Tech, Suicide And World Of Warcraft
Last month, a Virginia Tech student was found dead in the Target parking lot of the Christiansburg, Virginia store with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. His name was Daniel Kim, a 21-year old senior at the university. Unfortunately, some individuals have already started making assumptions that somehow his death was related to and possibly caused by gaming.
After doing a little research, I discovered that gaming is actually the one thing in his life that gave him a chance to live. Daniel was an avid Warcraft player who had developed numerous friendships playing the game over the past couple of years. The only warning signs that he was on the edge came in the form of emails sent to the university from various WoW players who were concerned for his safety. Unfortunately, little action was taken from the warnings and as we all know, Daniel Kim is now dead.
This was an unfortunate and probably preventable tragedy. It’s also unfortunate that some people will try to blame games when gaming may have been the only positive thing going on in his life. Online multiplayer games have a social aspect that the media simply does not understand. You create bonds with people you have never seen in real life. When it’s the middle of the night and there’s no one to talk to in person, there’s always a gamer somewhere online who will talk. When things are heavy on my mind, I often fire up the Xbox 360 and play some “big team battle” with my Halo 3 friends. I’ve never met any of them in real life, but I consider them true friends. I think one of the major problems with the media right now is that they simply do not see the overall kindness and generosity most gamers have in their hearts. As gamers, we do talk a lot of smack, but that’s honestly part of the fun. In the end, I truly believe that most hard-core gamers are good people with kind natures.
To be honest, I can’t objectively tackle the subject of video games and Virginia Tech at the same time. I was enraged that people such as Jack Thompson blamed the April 16 massacre on gaming when I was there and I saw what happened. I lost a good friend that day and I suppose that makes me take these media attacks personally. When you see large collections of lifeless bodies lying in pools of blood, you just don’t think of what to blame. There are more important issues at hand. Perhaps the media is simply too far detached from the reality of life to understand these tragedies. It did not surprise me that some people are voicing their opinions that gaming was somehow behind this recent suicide in the Hokie community.
Daniel Kim was an avid World of Warcraft player. He didn’t leave much behind in life. The only clues come from the traces of information from his instant messenger and Warcraft files. He left a cell phone behind with many numbers in them, but no one really knows what happened. I’m sure he’ll be missed by his WoW comrades. It was great that some of his Warcraft friends made attempts to contact the university asking for someone to help him. I think this situation shows how video game communities often care about each other more than we realize. It’s just a shame no one followed up on the emails the way they should have.