Get a Life! Er, Death…

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Online games like "World of Warcraft" have spurred services designed let gamers know when one of their cyber pals has died.

    Some people seem to live online – which is causing unforeseen complications when they really die.

    Two Internet-based pay services have popped up to let online gamers know when one of their cyber pals has passed on to a place without broadband, and a third is on the way.

    The macabre sites almost seem like a necessity in an age where social circles can revolve around games like the 10-million-player “World of Warcraft,” which are commonly played among people who have never met, yet are considered integral parts of one another’s lives.

    A service known as Deathswitch will automatically send out virtual death notices and key information like passwords to email addresses specified by the customer if he or she doesn’t check in within a defined period. The aptly named Slightly Morbid allows the deceased’s loved ones to log in and deliver the bad news.

    Another service, called Legacy Locker, is set to debut next month. It’s similar to Slightly Morbid, but will require a death certificate before any notifications are made.

    The services are a creepy sign of changing social mores as more of our lives are led online, often in the company of strangers.

    But even for the non-gamers, the services are a reminder to assemble an array of vital passwords and important computer documents in a safe place, like a real will – or just plan to live to forever.

    Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.