I’ve been on vacation this passed week; away from the internet too. I checked in the other day to find out that Jeff Freeman was dead. He committed suicide, actually, back on September twenty-fourth. And I’ve no doubt that everyone who reads this knows (or doesn’t care,) but I just wanted to write some stuff out. Jeff Freeman was a game designer “who some of you may remember as the lead designer behind the hugely unpopular changes in the Star Wars MMO,” as the news stories go, but why stop there? Refering to him as that seems odd to me. I didn’t know the man. To avoid confusion let me repeat: I did not know him. At least not in the sense that you ‘know’ anyone you consider yourself ‘knowing’. I read his blog. He (apparently) read mine (he commented on separate occasions,) and we exchanged emails a few times over the years.
(It’s important to note that his brother posted this on the net, and said that his suicide had nothing to do with his work, and was apparently in relation to personal problems.)
Working in journalism, I understand the need to frame information in a way that allows people to understand why they should care, but I much rather would’ve had news stories refer to him in ways that people didn’t know as well. Take the moment to read his blog a bit and realize that he had a great sense of humor. Mention that he was a parent who lampooned irresponsible parents (here, “I can’t stop my little children from playing 37 hours a week of Baby-Killer 3, because I don’t understand this little letter on the box it came in!”) or even an Army Reservist.
Of course, his blog immediately got comments with people saying they hoped he burned in hell, largely because of the Star Wars thing. Thus goes gamerdom… A bunch of assholes. The additional shame there is that it’s not like he ever got to make the game he wanted to make. He was just a guy with a job.
Of course the irony is painful; he really came across as the kinda guy most gamers would have absolutely loved. Just read this, written by a guy who actually DID know him. Chances are you’ll say “Damn, I wish I had a chance to know that guy.” That’s what I’m saying right now. If he’s going to be remembered as something to do with games, then why can’t he be “the guy who solved server over-population problems with a simple blog post:” http://web.archive.org/web/20050323233508/http://mythical.blogspot.com/ (You’ll have to highlight that first post. For some reason the Internet Archive fucked up the color.) Or the guy who said (something to the effect of) “To have a good MMO, you have to start with a world that would be interesting even without players.” Why can’t he be a guy who knew that better things were possible and fought that on the front lines?
Man, gamers are assholes.
Bah. Well, here’s his blog: http://mythicalblog.com/. I’m going to see if I can find some nuggets of wisdom left behind. Y’know, I recall him saying something along the lines of “you guys are tired of me talking about my game ideas all the time” once, but I can’t find it. I completely disagreed with that statement.
Some highlights from the past few weeks of Jeff Freeman’s blog:
Freeman Fights Torture
Freeman on (the lack of) Storytelling and Story Arcs in MMOs when compared to serial TV
Freeman on ‘banning’ players.
On Journalism, Entertainment Journalism, and Game Journalism
Heh, looking at it, he was quite the aggregator of quality media, too. Man, I’m going to regret not buying that buy a beer.