Death of a Hero

How do you sum up something that has be a part of you for almost 6 years, and then find out that it’s being ripped away from you? That’s where I’m at right now. I came home Friday afternoon to find the out of the blue announcement that NCsoft was shutting down City of Heroes, and that our final day to play it would be Nov. 30th. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I felt like throwing up. The amount of text messages, Instant messages, Skype calls, and phone calls I received and made to and from friends that play were massive. Everyone was going through the same emotions that I was. Shock, disbelief, grief, anger. The same thoughts were running through everyone’s head. “How could NCsoft do this to us? Why? Why shut down one of the few games that is still making them money, and keep the ones that are losing them money. It made no sense to us, and it still doesn’t.

I still remember the first day I played City of Heroes, and the character I made. I was Urbanknight, an Energy/Energy Blaster (I still have him, by the way. Today though, he’s known as Arclight Knight) My very first crime I fought after getting out of the tutorial, believe it or not, was stopping a couple of purse snatchers, lol. And right there began my almost 6 year career as a costumed crimefighter. Since that day, other Heroes have been born (*stands up* Hi, my name is Eric, and I’m an altaholic) and I still love each and every one of them. MedStar Angel, Star Spangled Belle, Purple People-Beater (I still get comments on how great that name is. 🙂 ), Lady Britania, Tauron the Bold, Bubblellusion, Harlequin Pixie, Potent Justice, Raine of Arrows, Kitty Fu (everyone’s gotta have a catgirl, right?), Brash Lass, Rescue Unit, Lord Briton, the list goes on. Every single character with a lovingly created extensive biography and history, including a story for one (Purple) that has grown to 12 chapters.

Paragon City, Rhode Island, is as real a city to me as any actual city out there today. I remember the first time taking to the skies after Urbanknight got his fly power. Despite all the travel powers available, it’s still my favorite. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be able to just leap from the ground and soar through the skies? I remember getting Urban to level 50 (the level cap), and then Angel, Belle, Purple, and Britania soon followed. I remember my first Task Force (the old Positron), I remember earning the right to wear a cape (when you still had to earn it), my first Rikti invasion, hanging out in Pocket D, the first time I stood on top of the statue of Atlas, my first holiday event, getting my first Incarnate power, my first Incarnate Trial, and so many other things. I remember creating my first Supergroup on the Freedom server, the Paragon Protectorate (which I still have), moving to virtue, trying out different supergroups, until I found my last home with the Dawn Patrol, which I have proudly been a member of, for 4 years. To be a member of the only Supergroup allowed by the developers to be named after a Canon group, is still an honor. When I fly the skies of Paragon on the fateful day of shutdown one final time, I will do so proudly as a member of that group .

I will unashamedly admit to shedding tears upon hearing the announcement of the shutdown, and the extreme grief that still grips my heart over this. I know, I can hear people out there saying “Why are you so upset, it’s just a game?” And I know, that a lot of my family and friends haven’t understood why I’m such a big gamer, and why this game in particular means so much to me. All I can say to you is this. City of Heroes is more than a game. It’s a dream. It’s a dream of a better life, where people are brave enough to take up the mantle of Hero dedicate their lives to helping others. It’s a dream that one person can stand up and change the world for the better. Isn’t that what everyone wants? To make our world a better place, for future generations? It’s not just a game, it’s the community involved with the game. The community of City of Heroes is second to none. I’ll put them up against any  community of any game any day of the week.

I’ve made so many friends in this game, across the U.S. and in other countries, who at first were only “in-game” friends, but have become true friends in life to me. So much so that a lot of us have traveled to meet each other and spend time together, and some I still will meet. (Randy & Jim, we are still doing Dragoncon next summer!) All of my friends, who I never would have met without City of Heroes, have become so much more. Heather, Carrie, Sarah, Chrissy, Jeremy, Scott, Emily, Troy, Melanie, Randy, Jim, Justin, Michele & Tom, Stefanie, Chris & Jen, Ken, Craig, Damian and Jamie, Jenny, Susan, Matt, Michele, Desiree, Dave, Loni, and the list goes on. You guys aren’t just my friends, you’re my family. I know that we’ll stay in touch after the game is gone, but I also know that deep in our hearts, we’ll wish that we could be back in Paragon City, just one more time.

Another awesome thing about this community, was the birth of Real World Hero, a charity started by Sultry Siren and her husband. Real World Hero, http://realworldhero.com/, was started 3 years ago, and has raised THOUSANDS of dollars for 4 separate charities. Last year alone, they raised over 7,500 dollars. This is an awesome charity, started by two fantastic people, and I am proud to say, I’ve donated every year, and will do so every year that it continues.

City of Heroes and it’s community has gotten me though some VERY dark times in my life. At one point, living alone in a city, the closest family hours away, I went through a severe depression. Life was not going good for me. I was suffering from personal and professional setbacks, and did not have anyone near me I could easily turn to. It got so bad that I was at the point of suicide. I was sitting on my bed one day, the barrel of my shotgun in my mouth, deciding whether or not I should pull the trigger. It was at that moment my cell phone rang. It was one of my friends from the game, calling to check up on me, because I hadn’t been on the game in a while. I’m not going to name the person who called, they know who they are, but suffice to say, it was enough to stop me. It was enough for me to put down the gun. I went to my computer and got on the game, and ran with some friends. It was like having a weight lifted off of me. I needed that connectivity. City of Heroes, and my friends in City of Heroes, literally saved my life. It was enough of a lift for me, that I called my family and let them know how bad it had gotten for me. I took a medical leave of absence from work, and sought out professional help. I spent some time with family, and worked through it, recharged the batteries so to speak, and I have never gone back to that dark place again. A lot of my family and friends didn’t know about this time in my life. I still kept it hidden from a lot of them, because I was ashamed of how low I had sunk. But I think it’s important to acknowledge it now, because it was such an important time in my life, as far as this game goes. I NEED people to understand how much this game and this community means to me.

City of Heroes spawned another love for me as well. That was my career as a DJ for an online radio station. Though I’m between stations at the moment, I still plan on going back and doing it again. I love getting on the air and entertaining people. One of my friends from the game, Heather, has been a DJ for years, and I had talked with her about it countless times. She sparked the interest for me, enough that I finally joined a station and started DJ’ing. I hope to get back to it soon. I miss it. Thank you Heather, for encouraging me to do it. And once again, congrats to you and Lorne on your marriage. I wish I could have been there for it. (For those who don’t know, Heather and Lorne met in City of Heroes)

I know there’s probably more I could say about City of Heroes, and I’ll probably think of a thousand other things that I would have wanted to say after I’m done with this, but I covered the most important parts. The point being, City of Heroes is more than just a game to me, and any others. It’s so much more. There is a campaign already going to save it, which you can help out with. In fact, I ask that all my family and friends help us save this wonderful game and community. You can do so in the following ways:

1. Write a letter to:

Mr. Taek Jin Kim, Chief Executive Officer
NCsoft Corporation
1501 4th Avenue, Suite 1050
Seattle, WA 98101

or

Mr. Taek Jin Kim, Chief Executive Officer
NCsoft Corporation
157-37 Samsung-dong
Kangnamu-gu, Seoul 135-090
Korea

Apparently, Mr. Kim spends time at both offices, so you can write to one or both of them, to ensure that it reaches him. Above all, remember, please be polite in your letters. We want him to take us seriously.

2. Sign the petition

http://www.change.org/petitions/ncsoft-keep-ncsoft-from-shutting-down-city-of-heroes

If this campaign doesn’t work, and the game is still shut down, let me just say to all my friends from the game. I love all of you. You men and women mean the world to me, and I’m proud to have been able to “stand beside you” on the firing line. I’ve always said that I’ll be on City of Heroes until the lights are shut off, and if that day is indeed November 30th, 2012, know that on that day, I’ll be there right beside you, taking to the skies one last time, to fight evil and to make Paragon City safe for others.

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