His Name was Talvarn

July 24, 2012

Opinions

Not too long ago I went back into the Northcotton Farm to help a kin-mate complete the three-man instance. I was recalling the first time that I tried the Northcotton Farm. I did it with none other then Goldenstar healing us on her minstrel. In fact, she mentioned this run on a past podcast. She could recall going there with me, but she didn’t know who the hunter was. That hunter that came with us was a kinship member named Talvarn.

I have played with him in many instances in Lord of the Rings Online and he was always a pleasure to be with. He was quick to laugh and always polite. He didn’t take the game very seriously at all and knew that the main goal was to have fun. It is with great regret and sorrow that I have to say that the person playing Talvarn passed away late October 2011. My kinship – The Palantiri of Landroval- didn’t learn about this until nearly two months later. Early January 2012, The Palantiri held a memorial in his honor out front of his in-game home where we shared our memories of him.

Talvarn Memorial

Members of The Palantiri remember their kin-mate Talvarn outside of his home.

Not too long ago National Public Radio (NPR) had a post on The Picture Show titled “Are Your Facebook Friends Really Your Friends?“. This was posted in reaction to a May 2012 article in The Atlantic titled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?’. These two articles, as the titles suggest, that people that use Facebook are friendless and socially isolated. These type of opinions are not new at all. People have always believed that people who use the computer are somehow escaping real life. In some sense I do believe that to be the case, but that is also why I like to read a book or watch a movie, to ease my mind from my troubles with the real life. Yet, I have never heard people claiming that people who read or watch movies somehow are friendless and socially isolated. I also never hear people make these claims when people utilizing other tools to stay in touch with others, like letter writing or talking on the phone. Where is the article titled “Are Phones Making Us Lonely?’

I believe that much of the discussion about how using Facebook or playing MMOs is making people socially isolated is largely one based on ignorance. It seems like every time new technology comes out there is always some criticism that it is somehow bad for you, especially if the new technology is being heavily used by a younger generation. During the Golden Age of comic books there was a belief that somehow people that read them were social misfits. The same is true when pen-and-paper role playing games came out years later. Then not long after that was the use of video games. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Talvarn posted on our message boards during October 2011 telling us that he was going into surgery and that he would be back after he recovered. A month and a half went by and we didn’t hear a word from him at all. December the first was his birthday and some members who were active on Facebook and friends with him on the social site posted birthday wishes hoping he everything was well with him. A family member of Talvarn’s posted informing us that he passed away in October. Of course we were grieve stricken to hear of this news. Wouldn’t anyone be if they just learned that a friend has passed on? Although I didn’t get to know him beyond the confines of the game and our kinship message board, I still counted him as a friend.

There are many other events that I have experienced playing MMOs where I can say with confidence that it doesn’t make one socially isolated or friendless. In fact, I find just the opposite to happen. It creates friends and makes you become more socially connected. I have seen romances form and bloom in front of my eyes. I have seen people take this romance and become life long partners. Even little things like helping people accomplish their goals in-game and celebrating their victories together is an example of friendships made in MMOs.

Talvarn’s home is still as he left it at 1 Waterbank Road. In fact, his upkeep is always kept current. Deposit the in-game money is our ritual to honor his name. I believe that everyone that I come into contact with in my life, a little bit of them are a part of me. I want you to know, dear reader, to always remember the lesson that I learned from Talvarn. The Lord of the Rings Online is a game and games are meant to be entertaining and fun, so please have some fun as you explore around Middle-earth.

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Avatar of Pinkfae

About Pinkfae

I feel in love with Tolkien's legendarium when I saw the 1977 film The Hobbit. I first read the Lord of the Rings the summer before starting high school. It has been a regular summer time activity for me every year since then. I have been enjoying playing Lord of the Rings Online ever since I first joined in July 2007. I have over two dozen characters created and played, but I mainly play on the Landroval server as a lore-master and also a spider.

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16 Responses to “His Name was Talvarn”

  1. Juk Says:

    Thank you for this moving story.
    Another lesson of life for a lot of people, especially me.

    Reply

  2. Cosmetic Lotro Says:

    Beautiful story, thank you for sharing. There is nothing wrong about having online friendships, it is just different that real life, but not less valuable. Do people that play games isolate themselves? Of course! And that’s sanity! It allows us to balance things out with the demands of a sometimes hectic real life. In Tolkien’s own words:
    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien

    Reply

  3. susan Says:

    Deepest condolences to the friends and family of your friend.

    I have made lasting friends and met my husband in online games, I have been there in my virtual worlds for my friends while they went thru life’s downturns like cancer treatments, passing of loved ones, financial woes and also have been there when the upturns came around like weddings, births and new jobs. In most instances the virtual setting allows us to share more readily and deeply than we would in a face to face relationship.

    Just because my words are sent via fiber optics doesnt mean they have no meaning or are less worthy because its not done in real time. Those that criticize are just behind the times, dinosaurs who havent realized that tech has passed them by.

    Reply

  4. Cyraith Says:

    Very moving. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I agree whole-heartedly that even though I don’t know any (but one, really) outside the confines of the game, I do count them all as friends and I care about them as any family would.

    Reply

  5. Avatar of Zyngor
    Zyngor Says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of Talvarn’s passing – they sounded to be a welcomed and loved member of the community. Condolences to all who knew and loved them.

    I am also in that pool of individuals that believe online friendships don’t necessarily negate them as “make-believe” or “ignorant.” I’ve been lucky to make new friendships with people all over the globe – something I’d probably never be able to do in real life. Of course, I’m not putting down physical relationships – they are most excellent as well – it’s just that we’re all unique, and have our own ways of creating true lasting friendships with those around us.

    In our own world of Middle Earth, I’m happy that we have the opportunity to create new characters on new servers, and thus have another “world” with which to begin new and lasting relationships with other free peoples (or creeps, if that’s how you play). :)

    Reply

  6. Flosiin Says:

    Great to hear how others Talvarn can inspire us. And to hear how the on-line community come together to celebrate their life.
    My former neighbor’s meet through an on-line board game. After a bit, they meet in person and ended up marrying.
    I keep in touch with a couple on LOTRO friends. Never meet them in person but still fun to swap life stories with them

    Reply

  7. Avatar of Elvishmouse
    Elvishmouse Says:

    I have a lot of stories I could tell to support the main idea here, but the one that comes foremost to my mind….

    I had an apprentice in the game, a Historian that my main character gave a lot of her extra supplies to, we roleplayed a bit, talked a fair amount about life, planned to write songs together. We weren’t online besties or anything, but we were friends. I knew he had lung cancer because he told me, and his frustrations when the doctors kept going back and forth on the ‘one lung or both’ thing. He told me about all his shenanigans with getting a guitar into the hospital and others (looots of shenanigans). He’d have to leave for two or three weeks at a time because he couldn’t have his laptop in the hospital.

    May before last, we made starter Elves, and leveled them separately to 15. We planned to try out powerleveling for the first time, a fair race to the top only in action when both of us were logged in. A summer project, for when we had plenty of time. We were going to start next week, when June came up.

    He didn’t come back. I logged even more frequently than usual, but the weeks ticked by, and the months, and I didn’t want to come to terms with things but he’d always been very good about letting us know if he was going to be gone. I found myself occasionally staring at my screen, helplessly realising how large the internet was and how I’d never know for sure. I asked the officers of his kin to be sure he wasn’t kicked (he was the longest-standing member aside from the leader) but I wasn’t sure they’d pay attention.

    I was hanging out with some of my RL friends that midwinter, watching a movie I wasn’t interested in so I asked them to pass me a laptop so I could play LOTRO. They did, and no one was online in my kin, and my quest was dull, so I went back to the movie, but didn’t bother to log off.
    And then that little notification. “Your friend, _______, has come online.”

    and I stared. and I typed, shaking, ‘-tacklehugs- I MISSED YOUUUU!’ and all he said was ‘heya mistress :)’ and I burst into tears and actually pounced my friend Sean who was sitting next to me, incoherently laughing and crying and yelling “He’s alive!” to the confusion of everyone and the ruining of the movie.

    My apprentice apologised profusely for not warning me… he had had to go back to the hospital and stay there for a long time, no notice… I didn’t care, I was just glad I could see him again.

    Not only was he alive, he was cancer-free, and still is. Friends are friends, and I’m so glad the internet lets me have the ones I do.

    Reply

  8. Ralgel Says:

    Great stories….I’m always glad I found LoTRO…It allows me to take a break from RL for an hour or two and hang out with cool people. Sometimes I think if I didn’t I may go crazy.

    Internet friends or real-life friends, it really makes no difference. Life is too short to pass up the chance to “meet” new people.

    Next time I’m in game, I’ll raise a mug to Talvarn, may he R.I.P.

    Reply

  9. Edroden Says:

    Just last night me and a kinmate skirmed for three hours with a guy from new Zealand! LOTRO has opened the world to us. Those that criticize us for playing don’t understand that we are more in touch with the world than they are. We experience other cultures every time we log

    Reply

  10. Gunston Says:

    A lot of people mistake MMO’s for being non-social, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Even IRC, that good old staple of online chat is social. I made some of my best friends on there – over 15 years ago. We still keep in touch, we still talk on the phone. We’ve never met, but it’s on the great to-do list of life.

    In Dark Age of Camelot, our guild lost one of it’s members to an unfortunate car accident – besides ourselves, another 200 (not kidding) people showed up for his memorial, even “the enemy”. We were in PvP territory, but no fights were had, well, at first. We had a little eulogy, a few funny anecdotes, and then, as our guildmate would’ve wanted, we proceeded to beat the snot out of eachother. It’s a game, but it does show you that no matter what you do, people know you, or know of you.

    In my next MMO, SW:G, one of my acquaintances in game passed. We didn’t find out till later it was because the man was in his early 70′s and not in good health. Here too people held a memorial, and we had ourselves a speeder race afterwards.

    People do this because in a way, you form a friendship with someone who is in reality still a stranger, someone you might never meet, but they’re still your friends. Not because they hang out with you, but because they listen to you. And you listen to them. Since you can’t “see” them, there’s no prejudice, no racism, no “isms” at all, just someone else, and you, and a good conversation.

    Reply

  11. doddamer Says:

    Sorry for all your losses. This article brings up a great point that friends in mmo’s are real friends. Thanks all for sharing

    Reply

  12. Halfindil Says:

    Well spoken, it made me realize that my ingame friends are really dear to me, though i dont know if that’s a good thing.

    -Halfindil of riddermark

    Reply

  13. Garnet Says:

    As a proud officer of the Palantiri, I will add to PinkFae’s assessment of Talvarn. Talvarn was quick to offer help and assistance, and was never angry about dying – and we did that many a time! As a result of his death, I created a list of people for my family to notify if something happened to me.

    I count my in-game and internet friends as real as if they were my work friends or people I hang out with in real life. Just like real life, you have a choice whether to associate with people in the game, and also people you prefer to do stuff with.

    I’ll miss him, as do all the folks in the Palantiri.

    Garnet, Landroval

    Reply

  14. Kaloni Says:

    I was resident Hobbit in charge of being a smart mouth for the Palantiri (emeritus). Larry always had a joke and a crunch of a carrot to ease the tension of a new dungeon or raid. Always the first and sometimes second to go help with a quest or achievement. I missed the tribute but was there in spirit and will always remember Talvarn and try to model my actions in game and life as he did: easy going and nothing was a big deal.

    Reply

  15. Rydar Says:

    I can still hear the clinking of the ice in his glass as he relaxed and enjoyed his tasty beverage with an open mic. He will be missed as only a true friend can. We, in the Palantiri, always go by IRL first names and Larry aka Talvarn aka “The John Wayne of Hunters”, was one of those guys who you just love to have in your kinship/guild.

    Thanks K…Pinkfae, oops, almost used your real name, for this article/tribute.

    The things you remember most about people are sometimes the little things like that, and they never fail to bring a little smile to your face and a chuckle. As others have said, Larry was helpful and kind, quick to laugh, very laid back, and as unselfish as they come. He wasn’t a gear junkie who just had to have the best gear, unless it was necessary to enable him to help kinmates, and would often offer up his winning rolls on gear to someone else who didn’t have it yet.

    There was a couple decades between us in age, but you could tell he was just as excited to see me as I was to see him when one of use logged in. Never one to enjoy questing solo, he would always volunteer to help or just send you a group invite and do whatever quest you wanted. His easy banter and good hearted nature is what I miss most about him…aside from the sound of that ice clinking in his glass.

    Larry, here’s to you, my brother. You are missed! I raise my glass to you, as you would have slapped me if I had wasted any of it by pouring some liquor for my homie. RIP, brother.

    Reply

  16. Avatar of Geldarion
    Geldarion Says:

    I know exactly what you mean. These games add to our connections. I remember there was a player on Vilya that literally transformed the Moors. He played a warg, and he was in my kinship on freepside, Southern Cross. He took many players under his wing and helped them get their first kill, or get their maps. His name was Rekka. He mentored people and cared about everyone he met. When he died in a car accident, there was a moors-wide memorial. Hundreds of players. He touched so many lives. This was in 2010, if I remember correctly, and we have had another memorial since. It is a yearly celebration of his life now. There is even a part of the moors we call Rekka’s Woods. It is possible to touch people’s lives through a game. More than possible, it happens!

    Reply

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