Vile Rat was a friend of mine, not as close as I would have liked but someone I am proud to have been given the opportunity to know better than others. This will also be one of the last times I refer to him by his EVE name. Like so many others whose paths I've crossed in EVE over the past nine and a half years, especially once you meet them in person, he will always be just 'Sean' to me. As many others are doing, I feel compelled to spend a few minutes reflecting on just how this man's life affected my own and how I knew him over the past several years.
My first contact with Sean in game was in late 2007. As was mentioned here in a moving article by The Mittani, Sean was one of the many factors that led to my old alliance, Mercenary Coalition, making the fateful decision to turn on Band of Brothers. He did not offer any deals, threaten or present some grand scheme. While the anti-BoB train was already in motion within MC, like any good diplomat, Sean did a fine job of making it clear that the people he represented were not necessarily the 'bad guys'.
My communications with Sean would continue on and off for the next few years, both in game as 'Seleene' and then later on as CCP Abathur. What I liked about Sean was that he was a fellow government employee and I enjoyed talking to him about his own 'adventures' in the world. I recall our talks evolving from him having a shitty connection he could barely play EVE on in Iraq to something finally resembling normal.
Others have made mention of how sometimes Sean would up and vanish due to incoming fire where he was stationed. This was very much true and my first thought upon seeing the report from Jabber last night:
(2:40:22 PM) vile_rat: FUCK
(2:40:24 PM) vile_rat: gunfire
was, "Oh, hell, he's in another one of those places." and that I'd soon get word back that he was okay and we were all stupid for worrying. What worried me though was that Alex (The Mittani) was worried, and the more I started F5'ing different news feeds the less certain I was that I'd get to speak to him again. It is even more ironic due to the fact that I had been talking about Sean not even a few hours earlier to another EVE player about my thoughts on the future:
Mark / Seleene 9/11/12 1:55 PM
by the time CSM 8 takes office, Chairman Vile Rat will be happy to keep the tradition going
Bagehi 9/11/12 1:55 PM
Mark / Seleene 9/11/12 1:55 PM
it WILL happen. I'd bet money on it and he'll be a good one too
Bagehi 9/11/12 1:56 PM
Yeah. You are probably right
I finally got to meet Sean in person when he was elected to the 6th Council of Stellar Management and we all travelled to our first Summit in Iceland. He was a genuinely warm and funny guy. In CSM meetings or discussions Sean was passionate about his positions and, even if you disagreed with him, articulate enough to present his arguments in a way that invited further discussion. I got to enjoy spending several quiet moments with him talking about non-EVE stuff and getting to know him better. It's times like that which I preach about to many who have never been to an EVE player meet or FanFest - once you meet the man or woman behind the pixels, you will never be able to think of them in the same way again. The experience is almost always a positive one.
Sean's CSM duties also carried him to EVE Fanfest this year. His State Department job had finally taken him to a more relaxed posting in The Hague as well. As fate would have it, I was flying to Iceland from Germany and ran into him and his wife in Copenhagen before the connecting flight we were both on took off. His wife was travelling with him. She was a very cheerful and funny woman and, much as all 'EVE wives' with e-famous husbands, seemed both proud and bemused by her spouse's ~stature~ in the community.
The last time I saw Sean was in the Plaza hotel in the morning after the last night of Fanfest. He and his wife had come out of the elevator to check out and I was talking to a large group of EVE players in the lobby. He had chosen not to run for CSM 7 and I knew it would be a while before I saw him again so I broke away from the crowd to shake his hand one last time. I told him I would miss his daily presence in Skype not only talking to the devs but just in general. I told him that I appreciated the work he'd done on the CSM and was glad that this little spaceship democracy experiment had allowed us to hang out and get to know each other.
Sean made the game we all play greater while trying to make the world we live in safer. I'm already shuddering to think about the real world ramifications that may come as a result of Sean's death.
People that play EVE all too often confuse the actions and even ~personalities~ of the characters played with their real life counterparts. On the other hand, if this senseless tragedy accomplishes anything in the tiny corner of the world that is the EVE community, I hope it helps people remember that even the most Vile Rat is, in reality, a warm and funny guy with a family and friends that care about him.
I will miss you, Sean. Goodbye, friend.