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From Tragedy to Victory: How an In-Game NPC Transformed a Gamer Girl IRL

How does an MMO help a gamer girl cope with her father's murder? Simple: she transforms herself into her online avatar, mentally and physically becoming the NPC she envisioned.

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Video games have the amazing ability to transform yourself into anyone you want to become. Upon pressing Play, you instantly become a virtual avatar, capable of heroic powers, notable feats, and stoic dispositions.

But can a fantasized avatar embed the player with its fantastic persona—one that carries over into the real world?  

Yes it can. And it has.

My real name is Lauren Blanset, but to the 190 million registered users of Artix Entertainment games, I am hailed as “Beleen.” Beleen is a perky, positive, and pink-loving NPC in Artix’s flagship MMO AdventureQuest Worlds, always depicted with a beaming smile and kind-hearted demeanor.  

Hi! I'm Beleen!

As Senior Writer and Community Manager (who is also nominated in the Dragon Slayer Awards—hooray for shameless self promotion!), Beleen is the liaison between gamers and game developers, in addition to inspiring players with encouraging words and motivational speeches. The world (wide web) needs more positive role models, and I am honored to be one of them—as my adoring fan base would attest. @BeleenAE Hiya Twitterers! *waves* I’m on Game Skinny! =D

So it’s hard to fathom that a glowing gamer girl is the end result of a dismal tragedy.

(It’s about to get serious, folks.)

Seven years ago, my father was murdered. I gripped my dad’s hand as he tried to hang on to life, and as I uttered my final “I love you Daddy” cry, he managed to squeeze my hand back just before passing away.  

Not only was my dad my best friend, but he was also the glue that held my family together. Following his death, my mother and sisters were torn apart by anger, depression, and grief—all of which incessantly resurfaced with the 6 year stint of court arraignments, hearings, trials, and civil suits. 

The last photo taken with me and my dad

And just when my family thought we could finally put this horrid thing behind us… it reared its ugly head again. Last week, my father’s killer reappeared in court, asking the judge to expunge his criminal record of all charges and required restitution. Of course, no one in their right mind would ever excuse such horrific acts, and as such, the court denied the assailant’s every motion.

So how does a girl stay happy and positive when she watches her father die, witnesses her whole family fall apart, and carries the continuous grief of never sharing another moment with her best friend again?  

My solution: start life anew as a video game character.

I began my adventures at Artix Entertainment in 2009, and just like every MMO game out there, I needed to create an avatar. Because my father’s death 2 years prior was still crippling my life, I snatched the opportunity to create someone who I desperately wanted—and needed—to become.

First, I needed a name. And not just any name—THE name that millions of gamers would identify with. The name “Beleen” is derived of Middle English and Urban Dictionary origins; the verb “be” as “to be, become,” and the noun “leen” as “a fabulous, unique girl whose personality is one of a kind and represents beauty in all aspects.”   

Now that I had a great (user)name to uphold, I had no choice but to create an equally great character: the ideal me. Everything that I detested about my situation, my life, and myself was flipped 180 degrees: my real life misery was converted into Beleen’s positivity; my forlorn face now illuminated Beleen’s contagious smile; and the gloom which shrouded the real me became the shining beacon of hope that Beleen instilled upon the players.

Because I applied the Beleen façade daily, it actually started to change my real life existence. I became a happier person because Beleen was always happy. The Beleen NPC was beautiful and had a great body, so I began exercising daily and significantly changed my eating habits. I used Beleen’s teachings and happiness to enhance my own personal endeavors, and because of that, I literally transformed my mental attitude and physical appearance.

 

Beleen started as a dream and became my reality. She gave me the 1-UP I needed to continue this game of life.

Even though I have become Beleen, the pain of losing my dad will never go away. No one can walk me down the aisle on my most magical day. My children will never know their grandfather. And I’ll never enjoy that Saturday morning fried-egg feast that only a father knows how to cook up.

Life is full of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. But it’s never a game over—because there’s always an option to hit Restart. You just have to find that button and have the courage to press Play again.

Originally Published Aug. 7th 2014

Featured Contributor

Artix Entertainment's Senior Writer and Marketing Coordinator. AdventureQuest Worlds NPC. And a Balloon Artist. It can't get much better than... more »

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Comments
  • 1
    Zenja Vencelj 1 month ago
    Hello Bellen,I am sorry if I bother you,but I have a small favor.I posted today my first suggestion for armor and I would like if you could see it and help a little if you can to make that armor in-game.I would be grateful to the rest of my life.Thanks.Be well and take care.

    ShadowdramonX..

    https://imageshack.us/i/eyq18o36p

    http://forums2.battleon.com/f/tm.asp?m=21380981&mpage=26&key=
  • 1
    joshobro_7002 2 months ago
    bellen i like ur story oh im gotten so inspired by ur story and artix entertaiment that i started a very very very small compony i hope u artix and the gang sapport my project that would mean alot to me sincerly-joshobro
  • 1
    Vexed Forest 2 months ago
    Woah. Thats....both tragic and heart warming. Why must you play with my feels, Beleen? :'( I've played AQW since beta and your NPC was always my favourite. I could never have imagined the impact she would have, especially on herself. Its just........you're too awesome! Battle on Beleen, you epic pink dragonslayer. Battle on!
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Aww thanks so much for being a lifelong hero and friend, Vexed Forest! We shall continue to fight the good fight together, because Good will always triumph over Evil (and Chaos)!
    Battle on!
  • 1
    thanks :) 2 months ago
    Dunno why but this just only motivated me harder to be an bodybuilder :O
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thanks so much for reading my story, thanks :)! The moral behind my story is that a positive attitude will change your outlook AND outcome in life--so that's why you feel motivated to do everything you can to become bodybuilder! Keep up the positivity and perhaps one day I can train at your gym =D
    Battle on!
  • 1
    Jack_6552 2 months ago
    I play AQW for some years now, and looking at you as a regular, mature woman rather than a silly NPC gets everything largely different.
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thanks so much for hearing my story, Jack. I want everyone to know how a positive attitude can change your outlook and outcome in life =D
    Battle on!
  • 1
    sory if i ask here :D 2 months ago
    ive been searching dat hairstyle on aqw what you have on that aqw beleen pic for ages :D where can i find it? or does it excist only for you?
  • 1
    Ray_7467 2 months ago
    Dude you're life does not suck at all, why don't you check out the reports for the people back in Gaza (Palestine) they lost all of there Family members, Friends, They have no Food,Drinks and you;re sitting here crying about you're dad? Get a life dude i mean yeah losing a Family member sucks but seriously? That's the reason you're life is full of misery LOL?! I mean yeah Beleen you're an awesome dude you rock but realize that you're wrong about you're life being full of misery. Also if you don't believe whats happening in Palestine and other muslim contrys i don't blame you, the media is full of lie that only represents muslim as the evil.
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Dear Ray, you have missed the moral of my story. My tale portrays how a positive attitude changed my outlook and outcome in life, instilling hope upon others who are coping with tragedy too. My present day is not full of misery--in fact, it's quite the opposite. Everyone suffers through hardships, but there is always a way to change things around so long as you actively search for it. I do not want people to pity me; I want people to realize that there is always the option to hit 'Reset' and change their world for the better.
    Thank you for taking the time to respond, and perhaps in light of this new information, you can re-read my post and see things in a different light.
    Battle on!
  • 1
    beleen can you give me acc free plss you beleen beautifull
  • 1
    Kiwi Soldier_7831 2 months ago
    P.S alota errors just occurred back there lol
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    My sweet Kiwi Soldier, my sincerest condolences for your loss =( And trust me--I went through similar thought processes following my father's death, such as 'Why wasn't I there to protect him?' and 'Why didn't I spend more time with him?'. I now know I cannot beat myself up because I realized that I cannot change the past, but I can change my future. Everything I do in life is to make my dad proud, and wherever he may be, I know he's beaming his radiant smile upon me--and I know your mother is smiling down upon you too!
    Keep up the positivity and battle on!
  • 1
    Kiwi Soldier_1805 2 months ago
    Hey Beleen, you may remember me from a couple of chats and tweets etc but your story really hit home for me not in the same manner as this one but in how we both have the same love for our parents. I was 15 when i was holing my mothers hand in hospital as she laid helplessly trying to catch whatever breath she could in front of our family and friends. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when i was 5, she went through gruelling chemotherapy as a lot of people do, fortunately for her the cancer went away after a couple of months. 3 months after this she got diagnosed with cancer again it came back…with a vengeance, she was in hospital for a week because her body didn't know how to respond to what was happening, so the chemotherapy sessions started all over again along with the stress. This time it took a few months longer than expected to go away. Fast forward a year to a dinner party with family and she starts to have bad chest pains followed by nausea and vomiting, it was the breast cancer again, worse… my mum had to go to hospital again but this time extra precautions were taken and both breasts were removed and chemo started again, but this time her body had negative reactions to the chemotherapy, hair not growing back, her vision turning terrible, one eye was so bad doctors in 3 countries didn't know what was going on or how to solve the issue, an eye specialist in dubai was found and my mum and dad went there to try solve the issue which they did through a special pair of glasses, but due to the negative reactions and cancer life would never be the same, but after awhile things were thought to be back to normal and they were for about 3 years.( me age 10) One night my mum wasn't able to sleep, and a few weeks prior to this she started having terrible feelings and aches in her bones, this was a reaction to previous chemo sessions, her bone structure was wearing thin and she later was diagnosed with bone cancer, that's what we thought the bad news was until we later found out she had blood cancer and liver cancer to go along with it. We were told she was going to be living on borrowed time for the next few months since chemo was no longer an option, so she lived her life to the best she could, went on holidays to ireland, Dubai, London and places like that, she was given 3 months to live but she made it 14,( me age 15) but one night she fell terribly ill, migraines, vomiting etc but this had a serious impact on me, i had suffered from the exact sickness a few days prior, but i passed it onto my already sick mother and it was serious, she suffered from pneumonia.. :/ she went to hospital that night ran scans and everything was horrible, they gave her 2 days, so we called every family member and friend in the country to respectively combine as one and give there goodbyes, she made it to 4 days and passed on 27 September 2008 at 7:01pm. But through the middle of all that, i was living with the guilt that i had wrongfully given my mum a flue she didn't deserve and killed her, i started suffering from depression and thinking suicide was my only way out, until i started playing sports and online games and started socialising more with other people that i realised there was a different side to life where everyone is equal although we have all suffered different types of pain. And that is why your story got through to me. <3
  • 1
    Kiwi Soldier_9393 2 months ago
    Hey Beleen, you may remember me from a couple of chats and tweets etc but your story really hit home for me not in the same manner as this one but in how we both have the same love for our parents. I was 15 when i was holing my mothers hand in hospital as she laid helplessly trying to catch whatever breath she could in front of our family and friends. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when i was 5, she went through gruelling chemotherapy as a lot of people do, fortunately for her the cancer went away after a couple of months. 3 months after this she got diagnosed with cancer again it came back…with a vengeance, she was in hospital for a week because her body didn't know how to respond to what was happening, so the chemotherapy sessions started all over again along with the stress. This time it took a few months longer than expected to go away. Fast forward a year to a dinner party with family and she starts to have bad chest pains followed by nausea and vomiting, it was the breast cancer again, worse… my mum had to go to hospital again but this time extra precautions were taken and both breasts were removed and chemo started again, but this time her body had negative reactions to the chemotherapy, hair not growing back, her vision turning terrible, one eye was so bad doctors in 3 countries didn't know what was going on or how to solve the issue, an eye specialist in dubai was found and my mum and dad went there to try solve the issue which they did through a special pair of glasses, but due to the negative reactions and cancer life would never be the same, but after awhile things were thought to be back to normal and they were for about 3 years.( me age 10) One night my mum wasn't able to sleep, and a few weeks prior to this she started having terrible feelings and aches in her bones, this was a reaction to previous chemo sessions, her bone structure was wearing thin and she later was diagnosed with bone cancer, that's what we thought the bad news was until we later found out she had blood cancer and liver cancer to go along with it. We were told she was going to be living on borrowed time for the next few months since chemo was no longer an option, so she lived her life to the best she could, went on holidays to ireland, Dubai, London and places like that, she was given 3 months to live but she made it 14,( me age 15) but one night she fell terribly ill, migraines, vomiting etc but this had a serious impact on me, i had suffered from the exact sickness a few days prior, but i passed it onto my already sick mother and it was serious, she suffered from pneumonia.. :/ she went to hospital that night ran scans and everything was horrible, they gave her 2 days, so we called every family member and friend in the country to respectively combine as one and give there goodbyes, she made it to 4 days and passed on 27 September 2008 at 7:01pm. But through the middle of all that, i was living with the guilt that i had wrongfully given my mum a flue she didn't deserve and killed her, i started suffering from depression and thinking suicide was my only way out, until i started playing sports and online games and started socialising more with other people that i realised there was a different side to life where everyone is equal although we have all suffered different types of pain. And that is why your story got through to me. <3
  • 1
    Kiwi Soldier 2 months ago
    Hey Beleen, you may remember me from a couple of chats and tweets etc but your story really hit home for me not in the same manner as this one but in how we both have the same love for our parents. I was 15 when i was holing my mothers hand in hospital as she laid helplessly trying to catch whatever breath she could in front of our family and friends. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when i was 5, she went through gruelling chemotherapy as a lot of people do, fortunately for her the cancer went away after a couple of months. 3 months after this she got diagnosed with cancer again it came back…with a vengeance, she was in hospital for a week because her body didn't know how to respond to what was happening, so the chemotherapy sessions started all over again along with the stress. This time it took a few months longer than expected to go away. Fast forward a year to a dinner party with family and she starts to have bad chest pains followed by nausea and vomiting, it was the breast cancer again, worse… my mum had to go to hospital again but this time extra precautions were taken and both breasts were removed and chemo started again, but this time her body had negative reactions to the chemotherapy, hair not growing back, her vision turning terrible, one eye was so bad doctors in 3 countries didn't know what was going on or how to solve the issue, an eye specialist in dubai was found and my mum and dad went there to try solve the issue which they did through a special pair of glasses, but due to the negative reactions and cancer life would never be the same, but after awhile things were thought to be back to normal and they were for about 3 years.( me age 10) One night my mum wasn't able to sleep, and a few weeks prior to this she started having terrible feelings and aches in her bones, this was a reaction to previous chemo sessions, her bone structure was wearing thin and she later was diagnosed with bone cancer, that's what we thought the bad news was until we later found out she had blood cancer and liver cancer to go along with it. We were told she was going to be living on borrowed time for the next few months since chemo was no longer an option, so she lived her life to the best she could, went on holidays to ireland, Dubai, London and places like that, she was given 3 months to live but she made it 14,( me age 15) but one night she fell terribly ill, migraines, vomiting etc but this had a serious impact on me, i had suffered from the exact sickness a few days prior, but i passed it onto my already sick mother and it was serious, she suffered from pneumonia.. :/ she went to hospital that night ran scans and everything was horrible, they gave her 2 days, so we called every family member and friend in the country to respectively combine as one and give there goodbyes, she made it to 4 days and passed on 27 September 2008 at 7:01pm. But through the middle of all that, i was living with the guilt that i had wrongfully given my mum a flue she didn't deserve and killed her, i started suffering from depression and thinking suicide was my only way out, until i started playing sports and online games and started socialising more with other people that i realised there was a different side to life where everyone is equal although we have all suffered different types of pain. And that is why your story got through to me. <3
  • 1
    NukeCook 2 months ago
    You are so positive it shine thought my computer...I also playing Aqw from 2011 and i trying to consume every my char...Like to be cool,to were stuff like my chars and lots more...I hope that we will get someday title and medic theory about all of this...Much love go and be shine like you are <3 <3 <3 Much love(And support) from me and Serbia <3 <3 <3
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thanks for surviving the bright beam of positivity, NukeCook! And you can become anyone you wish--just remember that a positive attitude will change your outlook and outcome in life!
    Keep up the great work and battle on!
  • 1
    Xrazoc 3 months ago
    Hello Beleen!
    Thanks for sharing this story, I liked it, it was sad, but you keep it up like any strong willed women would do, I respect for what you have done in your life.... I read this story earlier and gave a comment earlier but it seems to be gone for some reason, but I already memorized the story above somehow, since it was very prideful for what you have done after that incident. Making a change like that is huge. I think this is a good reference for all who has same problems as you had, I mean it really is inspiring and sweet story. I think this could be a hit story for all and not only gamers if you ask me.

    Just one more thing, do not let the past haunt you, I mean look at you,your present shows how you became you, treasure everything good your father has done for you and never forget it and share it to your children and future grandchildren. I'm sure they will understand how great he was.

    As a bonus, you have a new fan right in front of you, and get you extra love from me too for being brave enough to sharing this story.

    Kindly Love From A Fellow Player of AQW
    Xrazoc
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Awww, thank you so much Xrazoc, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond again =D I want my story to show how a positive attitude can change your outlook AND outcome in life. It continues to work for me, and I am hopeful that others dealing with ANY situation in life can triumph just like I have.
    The past does not haunt me--it empowers me. And considering all the wonderful comments and Tweets received, my story has empowered the world that I know =)
    Battle on, Xrazoc!
  • 1
    Papa Duck 3 months ago
    Beleen, I am truly sorry for your loss and I am really happy you found the light at the end of tunnel through gaming. You spread your positivity and love for everyone and it is so inspiring. My prayers go out to you and your family. We love you and will always wish you the best.

    Sincerely,
    Papa Duck (Duck)
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thank you for your kind words, Papa Duck. My dad always encouraged me to triumph over tough times, and even in death, he still gives me the strength to push forward and brighten the lives around me. My dad may be gone, but his teachings and love remains within me forever. I am proud to be his daughter, and everything I do is to make him proud wherever he may be.
    Battle on!
  • 6
    topher339 3 months ago
    I feel for your loss. I have yet to lose any close family members. The closest experience I have to that is the day my father left for Iraq, and that's not even close. Only day I remember crying. So, I can't yet truly understand your loss, but I do empathize.

    I have seen what losing a family member can do to a family. Had a friend who's brother took his own life. I've seen what it can do to people and how many times, those people don't bounce back. I am glad that you were able pull together and turn your life around.

    An inspiring story to be sure...
  • 1
    Zenja Vencelj 3 months ago
    Dear Beleen,this is my first time writing to you,I read your story and I know how you feel cuz I too had suffer the loss of love ones.I lost my Mom and Dad at very young age(before age of 7) can't describe how much I miss them.To be honest with you,I suffered that horrible feeling 4 times in my 25 years,the hardest loss was death of my Mother and my Aunt,who was like second mother to me.If it wasn't people like You that gave me hope and helped me to go through all that pain,who knows what would happen.I wished that there is more people cheerful,happy and always with smile on its face in this world.Then this world would be better place.Your Father lives in your hearth and that is something that no one can take away from you.I believe that He is so proud on you and I hope that evil that murdered him will be punished for its crime.Be strong and know that we Aqw players are always here for you and your team.Best wishes:)))

    P.S My name in Aqw is ShadowdramonX,so if you ever feel alone,feel free to find me usual at Evil Sir Ver.
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 2 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    My condolences for your loss, ShadowdramonX! But keep your pretty chin up, because we need to be strong for not just our lost loved ones, but also for those who are suffering through tough situations. I promise to always stay positive and happy so long as you promise to do the same. Together, we can make this world a happier place!
    Battle (and smile) on!
  • 1
    Shane_3124 3 months ago
    We should play Aqw together :D Yorumi at /house Rainbow Lover :D
    And you're beautiful :3
    Last edited 3 months ago
  • 1
    AQW player_4758 3 months ago
    U are HOT
  • 1
    Majed_7328 3 months ago
    Dear Beleen,
    I have no words to describe how sorry i'm feeling right now. Our love, thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. We all love you and adore you, just stay strong for us and thank you for sharing! <3

    Sincerely, Majed (Zuu)
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Awwww, thank you so much dearest Zuu! I really appreciate all your kind words and warm wishes. I am blessed to have such amazing friends like you who are more like family here at Artix Entertainment.
    Stay strong and battle on!
  • 1
    SereZee 3 months ago
    Hi Beleen,

    Thank you for sharing such a sad, yet amazing and motivational story with us. It is heartwarming to hear that you can indeed turn your life around -- sometimes, all you need is self-motivation. It must be quite the challenge to turn a 180 on what life has dealt you at that time, and I truly admire your willpower and optimism. All the best to your future endeavors! Battle On!! :)

    Sincerely,
    SereZee (SerenityZ)
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    You're so sincere, SerenityZ! I just hope my story will help those struggling through tough times as well. It just goes to show that a positive attitude can and will change your outlook and outcome in life :)
    Battle on!
  • 1
    Anonymous_2511 3 months ago
    Hello Ms. Beleen,
    That's such a tragic story and I'm sorry to hear about your loss.
    I'm glad that you managed to overcome your problems and become a happy person as a result. I can't even imagine what it must have been like, especially since you only got to see him in the hospital.
    I always enjoy reading your design notes, most recently the artwork for the chaos lords and your silliness in general.
    I wish you only all the best and (off-topic), I love that you enjoy the color pink.
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Hehehee, thank you anonymous :) I will be sure to keep up the silliness, because life is too short to be too serious. When you're always happy, it's hard for others around you to not be happy too. So keep up that positivity and together we will make the world a happier (and sillier!) place :D
    Battle on!
  • 1
    Dragonfang44445_5434 3 months ago
    Hello Ms. Beleen! your story is so motivational and i literally had a big tear drop at the end, those words are words to live by and i will never forget your very sad and amazing story. I would have never guessed that happened to you as you are a beaming light of happiness(and pinkness) to me and many other players. Blessings to your past few years and many more!

    -Dragonfang44445
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thank you Dragonfang for your kind words and warm wishes :) I truly appreciate it! And I will continue being the beaming light of hope to whomever have lost their path.
    See you on the battlefield!
    Battle on!
  • 1
    Kevin E. 3 months ago
    hello, baleen,

    first I am very sorry for the loss you had with your father, I know what it like to lose a father, but as Izabella_4558 said "You are an example for all the people around the world considering your courage and brave soul" and you are also my chose for the dragon slayer award as well^_^. and I do hope we see more of you in your videos you make and in game as well for I do believe it you and that smile that inspire many people around the world to be better then what they show every day^_^...oh and I after reading some of those posts those people if they don't want 5 year olds to read this they should have there parents look at what they are look at it not baleen fault
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thank you Kevin E for hearing my story :) There will always be immature people out there, so that's why it's incredibly important for me and you and everyone else to have a positive attitude towards life. Positivity will change your outlook and outcome in life (and I know that for fact)! So let's be the real heroes and instill courage and bravery upon all who wish to learn!
    Battle on!
  • 1
    Nolax 3 months ago
    I'm really sorry for your loss...
    But now you always look happy, that makes me, and other people happy too!
    You're one of my greatest inspirations.
    Battle On!!! :D
  • 8
    Lauren "Beleen" Blanset 3 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Thanks do much Nolax! I love making people happy because that makes me so happy too. I will continue to smile and do everything I can to make the whole world smile back :D
    Battle on!
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