The Passing of a Fellow Gamer, 1 Year Later.

May 23, 2013 marked an anniversary that is hard for me.  A very good friend of mine passed away suddenly.  His name was John Reavis and he was one of my closest friends and a guy that I gamed with for over 20 years.  Whenever I had a game ready, he was there to play.  We went through college gaming together and many years afterwards.  He was a loyal friend as well as a loyal gamer.

As I get older and continue to game further in my years than I had ever planned, I realize that it’s going to happen more often.  Especially in the demographic that we are in – the gamer geek demographic – because let’s admit it, a vast majority of us (myself included) are not the healthiest in the world.

What happens after a member of your gaming group passes?  In my case, after 21 years of gaming together, I had taken a break from gaming to handle other things.  John had taken over the group for a period of time, but it had gradually fizzled. Recently, I tried to restart that group but life would not let me.  This just tells you how important John was to the group.

John was an interesting fellow.  He died at the age of 52.  He was a huge sci-fi fan – Star Trek, Larry Niven, Star Fleet Battles –  and one of the driving forces behind me running sci-fi games.  He was always one of those players I looked forward to gaming with.  You know how it is.  In a group of 5 or 6, there is always ones that you click better with than others and collectively create better stories with.  John was one of those people for me.

I really do not have a lot of advice to gaming groups that lose a member like this.  There are a few lessons to learn from anyone passing, good and bad.  John was an honorable guy, but he was also lonely.  He lived alone with two dogs.  He had just his sister who lived 2 hours away.  I would imagine quite a few gaming groups have guys like this, considering our demographic.  Don’t forget these guys.  Sometimes the gaming group is the only immediate family they have.  Don’t forget that.

When they do pass, find ways to honor them.  The guys at Gypsy Knights honored one of their own passing by dedicating a planet to him.  I hope to establish a scholarship in John’s name at our alma mater.  I am also resurrecting and playing one of his characters in a new campaign I am running with another group.  Honor their memory in some way or another.  Honor their contribution to your gaming group and to your life as a gamer.  That might not mean much to non-gamers and seem even silly to them, but gaming is what we do.  It brings us together and allows us to form great memories and stories together.

One of the more harder lessons is one we all deal with in some fashion or another – our health.  It is true we all have to die sometime, but if there is something we can do about it, please think about it.  I am trying to lose weight (again) and eat more healthy.  I have kids and I want to see them grow up, so I have a little more motivation than others. But think about it.  We all have family too – our gaming group.  Encourage each other.  Instead of gaming one week, take a walk and talk about the direction of the campaign.  Plan other get-togethers that might involve a little more healthy activity.  At least think about it.

John left a lasting impact on me.  I wouldn’t be writing a year after his passing if he hadn’t.  He was my best friend and mentor.  He was a good man, a great gamer and an even greater friend.  I do not wish this kind of loss on anyone but I am not foolish enough to think it won’t happen.  When it does, remember them.  Don’t just keep going like nothing happened.  Remember them.