My son was a competitive gamer. His handle was Froggir. I know, I know. You’re reading this telling yourself – Gaming is not really a thing. “Gamers” are what we call kiddos who spend too much time on the XBox and are putting off getting a real life. HA! I was there, too. At an early age Luke discovered his excellent reflexes and hand-eye coordination made him pretty decent at online gaming. Turns out, you play long enough, and do well enough, and suddenly people want to recruit you for a team and sponsor you to play under their organization. Say what?! But it was true and Luke’s career began.
During Luke’s sixteenth summer he went to his first gaming event. In California. Without us. Now this kid couldn’t get himself out of bed for school every morning, so I wasn’t sure how he was going to navigate his way through an airport, to another state, and figure out how to get himself to his team. But he did and he THRIVED! He loved every minute of it, and his team did fairly well for their first go at the big times. You should have seen me. This naysayer stalked every minute, every play, every win online and I was SO PROUD. I was mostly happy that Lukester had found something that gave him some joy.
Just for the record, gaming is not all roses and sunshine. It’s hard work. You have to play A LOT. Reputation and attitude are everything and Luke struggled to align himself with great players. These are all young people, young in age and some young in behavior, and trying to blend four personalities to compete was tricky. Some organizations are not organized, or honest, and you get traded A LOT. If you’re lucky, you meet some really great characters, you get mentored by an awesome owner, and your team WINS.
And that is where Luke was January 2015. His team was FLYING and after a tough event they qualified for the Million Dollar Tourney in Las Vegas. It was the mother of all tournaments and the lads were psyched. There was only one problem: they found out a rule had been introduced and, where previously your parents could sign you in, all players now had to be 18. Luke wasn’t. Neither was one of the other boys. They both got the boot.
Luke continued to play after that, but he was never the same. Three months later, he was gone. I don’t think even I understood how large the gaming community was until the night of Luke’s death. We were on our way home from the vigil and Logan was looking at his phone as we walked into the garage and all of a sudden, he shouts, “Mum, Luke is trending on Twitter”. John and I didn’t even really understand what that meant, of course, until Logan explained it to us. But there it was and it was because of the gamers. The gaming community had made a pact to all tweet in Froggir’s memory at exactly the same time and ALL AROUND THE WORLD it happened. Thousands of people were remembering Luke and we were floored. It was a Gaming organization who started the Go Fund Me account that allowed us to redo the Rutland Basketball courts. It was a gamer who made the video that went viral that still brings me to tears when I hear Luke’s voice. It was two gamers who traveled to Massachusetts because they loved him and wanted to be here for his wake. It was all those gamers who tweeted the most beautiful words and truly helped my heart.
So what I need you to know is this: if this is your Day One, let the kids do the things they need to do to remember your child. T-shirts, bracelets, hashtags. It helps them and it sure is heck is going to help you. If this isn’t your Day One and you’re reading this and you have kids, can I just say this? Help your child find something they love. It might not be YOUR first choice, it might not be conventional, but everyone deserves to fill their days with something that makes them happy. xxx