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.
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.