Grief and gaming: How I mourned my online friend
“It was absolutely devastating when I got the news,” Jasen Kasten says about the day he was told his friend Dave had died.
But they’d never met.
They’d become friends over three years of playing World of Warcraft together.
Jasen says the grieving process was just as difficult as it would have been for a friend in real life.
Dave died from complications due to back surgery earlier this year.
“A lot of my friends have been cultivated over the internet, so for me it had absolutely no difference whatsoever,” Jasen says.
“It could have been someone I had known from high school or had been in my weekly sports league or anything else.
“I’m still feeling quite devastated.”
We always say ‘real life first’
Jasen and his Warcraft ‘guild’ (the group he plays with online) met on the internet – but he says they live by a motto that what’s happening offline is more important than on.
“A couple of times Dave said: ‘Listen guys, I’m really not feeling well, I’m going to have to bow out,'” Jasen tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“We always say: ‘Real life first’. You take care of your family and your health first.
Dave lived in Florida, the same US state as Jasen – but despite various attempts, they’d never said hello face to face.
After Dave’s death, Jason turned to his World of Warcraft friends.
“We were also able to bounce ideas and feelings off each other and also share our grief and moments we had with him,” he says.
But as well as sharing stories, their group held an online event to commemorate Dave’s death.
“We did some of the content that we had enjoyed and had our best memories with our friend,” remembers Jasen.
“As we went through different parts of the content we all had different anecdotal memories of him and jokes we used to make.
“He was really a fixture of our family and of our weekly gathering.”
And while Jasen was taking part in Dave’s online memorial, his wife Marti overheard and shared the story on Twitter.
“I’m sitting here listening to them having a conversation about their friend and it’s moving. It was heart-warming and I just threw it out into that space,” she tells Newsbeat.
Describing herself as a casual gamer and a “gamer wife”, Marti’s tweet reached thousands of people – and others soon shared their own experiences of mourning their online friends.
Rob Farmer replied saying he still sends messages to his gamer friend Marty who died in 2017.