Tragedy Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Tragedy RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network From Tragedy to Victory: How an In-Game NPC Transformed a Gamer Girl IRL Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:41:28 -0400 Lauren "Beleen" Blanset

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.

Oculus Rift's Co-Founder Andrew Scott Reisse Killed in Hit-and-Run Sat, 01 Jun 2013 02:28:02 -0400 Joseph Rowe

On May 30th, 2013, a group of gang members lead police on a high speed pursuit through the city of Santa Ana, CA. In the pursuit, the driver of the vehicle, Victor Sanchez, hit pedestrian Andrew Scott Reisse, a co-founder of the Oculus Rift.

Prior to the high speed chase, Sanchez was part of a group of four gang members who were involved in a confrontation with the police that day. One of the men who was in the same group as Sanchez, Geraldo Diego Ayala, was shot before the pursuit, taken to the hospital in critical condition, and later died.

Sanchez and the other two jumped into their Dodge Charger to escape the police, leading them on a 20-minute car chase through Santa Ana. The suspects hit another vehicle in their chase at the intersections of Warner Avenue and Parton Street.

At the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Flower Street, Reisse was tragically struck by Sanchez. One witness said that Reisse was hit hard enough his body flew "almost 20 feet onto the sidewalk."

Sanchez surrendered peacefully and is currently being held by police on suspicion of murder. One of his fellow gang members was shot with a Taser by police and the other was bit by a police dog before both were arrested.

Sanchez is currently being guarded while he is in a hospitalized condition. OC Weekly does not give a reason why, but it is likely he sustained injuries when he hit another vehicle earlier on in the pursuit.

This tragedy hits home for me not only as a gamer who looks forward to the release of the Oculus Rift, but as a resident of Orange County.

My condolences go out to Reisse's family, friends, and co-workers. To help create something as groundbreaking as the Oculus Rift takes an amount of genius that very few have. The gaming industry has lost a great mind this week.

SimCity: The Musical - Part 1 Wed, 13 Mar 2013 06:49:50 -0400 Feisty Curmudgeon

The EA bungling of the SimCity release is one of the story archetypes of our time. A comedy of errors that leads to tragedy. Or is it a tragedy of comedic proportions? This tale has happened before and will happen again.

Our cast:

The players - The faceless mass whose voice cries out as one.

EA - The antagonist. No one likes you, and your plots and schemes are apparent from the beginning of the story. No one wants you to win.

Maxis - The affable, but misguided sidekick.

Act I - Scene 1:

A dark stage. Spotlight on a single player at a computer, playing SimCity. A muted newscast plays in the background. The newscast fades up on:

"EA today announced they will be releasing a new version of SimCity coming March 2013."

Spotlights appear all over the stage, showing other players all gazing rapturously at the newscast. Musical number starts: "We Built This City" as players cavort around stage in celebration.

As the song fades and players disappear, EA and Maxis enter from stage right. Back to single spotlight on both.

Maxis: "Thanks so much for all the support while we've been working on the game!"

EA: "Gladly! I'm sure we will both benefit quite handsomely from its release. By the way, I wanted to talk with you about some of the decisions you've made on the game."

Maxis: "Oh, um, sure."

EA: "It's nothing serious. In this wondrous new age of the Internet, I just thought it would be great if players could play together online..."

Maxis: "Well, sure, that could be fun."

EA: "All the time. See, I think the best way to protect the game would be to force players to authenticate with us any time they want to play."

Maxis: "Uh huh, and what about players who have enjoyed playing the old game alone and offline for years?"

EA: "What about them?" (ominous laugh)

After the Sandy Hook Tragedy, Groupthink Hits Ryan Lanza and Mass Effect Sun, 16 Dec 2012 16:09:59 -0500 Imayen Etim

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, many Facebook users flooded the Mass Effect fan page with messages of blame and hate. 

They were wrong

The outraged bystanders weren't wrong because video games aren't to blame for societal wrongs. I mean, they're not, but that's not the bigger issue. That argument has been hashed over too many times before. 

Rather, they focused their anger on the game because they believed the killer was a Facebook fan of the franchise, but they had the wrong guy. Early reports from almost all media outlets pinned the atrocity on 24 year old Ryan Lanza. A Fox News expert, even as the identity remained unconfirmed by police, asserted that Mass Effect caused the loss of all of these young lives. 

Shocked, angry, and hurt viewers logged on and vented their rage. They were met by Mass Effect fans and general fans of gaming and the culture. Many of the more internet savvy defense had seen posts by Ryan Lanza's friends saying that he didn't do it -- that they'd heard from him since the news broke.

Since the traditional news outlets hadn't caught up to the common internet sleuth by that point, the vitriol continued. 


And then it stopped... abruptly as it began. Ryan Lanza's pictures were suddenly being excluded from news reports. Internet and TV media removed his name from their coverage and referred to the perp as "unconfirmed." We found out that Ryan Lanza was an innocent man, and that his younger brother, 20 year old Adam Lanza, had carried out the disgusting mass murder.

Mass Effect and Ryan Lanza found themselves victim of groupthink; casualties of mob mentality. 

At the time of writing, neither BioWare or EA have released any statements regarding the situation.

Our condolences go out to those who lost children, moms, and sisters at Sandy Hook. Newtown, CT -- you are in our thoughts.

Source: Kotaku

Source: Mass Effect

Source: Twitter