Posted on: April 30, 2020 at 7:29 pm
Last updated: October 15, 2020 at 3:04 pm

A Final Fantasy XIV gaming community recently brought tears to millions of eyes by organizing an online funeral procession for a member who recently died of the coronavirus, identified by the username ‘Ferne Le’roy’ [1]. Most members of the group called ‘Free Company’ didn’t know each other in person, but this didn’t stop them from feeling the pain of losing someone. 

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Final Fantasy is a Japanese series of fantasy role-playing video games that has been around for over 33 years, with millions of loyal players from around the world. Due to the movement and travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, Ferne’s online family couldn’t gather to pay their last respects in person, so they held a funeral march in their virtual world.

“We didn’t know her but we wanted to show support to her, her [group] and those who knew her,” one of the players wrote on Facebook. “Although this was a very emotional event, seeing everyone there for her memorial was very moving and beautiful.”

A touching gesture of friendship and loyalty

The original funeral invitation was posted on Facebook on April 8, following the group’s discussion on Reddit. It read: “One of our own was lost to COVID-19. Now’s the time to show up and show out for a fallen Zalera player … Remember the fallen, or no one else will.”

On Saturday, April 11, hundreds of players logged in at the same time with their avatars clad in black, somber outfits and holding umbrellas. They gathered in the desert city of Ul’dah on the game’s Zalera server and marched for over an hour to honor their member. In the virtual world, the procession began in the middle of the night and lasted until the sun came up. The party slowly crossed several lands until they converged under a holy site called the Guardian Tree.

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While this is not the first time online gamers have come together for something like this, the number of people who turned up for Ferne’s funeral was remarkable. 

I didn’t expect anyone to actually show up,” one of the organizers, identified as Leafelda Moonchild online told Inverse. “I made the post so that those that may have known her would be informed. The fact that so many people showed up, not only from Zalera but from other servers, really took me by surprise.”

Read: ‘We hear you, dad’: A daughter stays on the phone for hours and hours as her father dies alone from coronavirus

Virtual connections, real grief

Little was known about Ferne outside of the gaming community. She played with a female avatar and while her interactions with the others might have been virtual, the sentiment and grief were too real for everyone. 

“I didn’t know them. I wasn’t even in their Free Company,” Roke Leonas, a moderator for the Facebook group told Inverse [2]. “When the leader posted about it asking people to come, we made the event page for it to help them. The least we could do to get the word out… Gamers take a lot of grief, but for a lot of people, that’s what community looks like. We didn’t have to know them to show our support for a player that was tragically taken and to help FC mourn in their own way.”  

Millions of people online were touched by the warm act of solidarity for a loved one whom they’d never met. That’s the thing about video games. People who connect over these ‘unreal’ worlds form connections so strong that they could last a lifetime, such as the one between Ferne Le’roy and Leafelda Moonchild.

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We had never met in person as we lived in different states,” Moonchild says. “But we had talked in-game and over Discord. She was one of my [FC] officers and a great friend. She didn’t really like to do endgame things almost at all but loved to help people … Ferne was a great player, and if she even thought you were not doing okay in real life, she would find a way in-game to at the very least bring a smile to your face.”

Keep Reading: Six-Month-Old Baby With Heart And Lung Problems Survives Coronavirus

  1. Josh Elliot. ‘Final Fantasy’ gamers hold online funeral for player who died of COVID-19. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/6832247/coronavirus-video-game-funeral/. Retrieved 27-04-2020
  2. Danny Paez. FFXIV COMMUNITY HOLDS MASSIVE VIGIL FOR PLAYER WHO DIED OF COVID-19. Inverse. https://www.inverse.com/gaming/final-fantasy-14-coronavirus-memorial. Retrieved 27-04-2020
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Penelope Wilson
Team Writer
Penelope is a writer and health enthusiast with a B.Arts in Language Studies. She is a deeply spiritual person, a relationship expert, a nutrition freak, and a skin-care maverick.

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