At the end of last month, more than 10.4 million subscribers on the YouTube channel received a notification that usually brings good news: Technoblade, an experienced Minecraft player, has published a new video.
For fans, every new video promised Technoblade’s warm humor, whether he wins a tournament or goes on an inexplicable adventure to produce more potatoes than anyone else in the Minecraft minigame.
But when fans clicked to play this latest video titled “so long nerds,“It was immediately obvious that something was wrong. Instead of showing Minecraft gameplay, a man appeared who called himself the father of Technoblade. He announced that his son, whose name was Alex, died after he was diagnosed with cancer.
The video has been viewed more than 72.9 million times since it was posted on June 30, as fans who used to look forward to notifications from Technoblade try to process the death of someone they knew just through the screen.
Social media is flooded with fan art, tributes, and links to mournful resources. Memorials have been installed in Minecraft, including digital book which was signed by more than 377,000 people.
Grief ricochets offline, including at the home of 13-year-old Noelle and her 11-year-old sister, Ilana, who recently told her aunt to name her baby Technoblade.
During a video call from their home near Toronto, Noel said she learned that Alex had died on her last day of school.
“I was just a mess,” she said. “I just sat in my room and cried. I didn’t know what to do. “
Ilana, who dressed up as Technoblade’s avatar, a pig wearing a crown, for Halloween, said: “I don’t like to bring this topic up when I’m just sitting with others.”
They both started watching Alex’s videos at the end of 2020. They liked his light-hearted banter with other Minecraft players and how he monologues about the absurdity of the mundane parts of life like use and loss. soap box in the common shower at the college.
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Alex talked about the screen recording of him playing Minecraft, extremely popular video game developed by Mojang Studios in which players can create their own world piece by piece and compete against others online. The game developer was later bought by Microsoft.
The controlled gameplay garnered such a following that the company honored Technoblade on its homepage after his death. Mojang Studios stated that Technoblade has “become synonymous with a source of goodness” in an emailed statement.
Among Technoblade’s most beloved gaming adventures was his whimsical quest to make more potatoes than anyone else in Minecraft, a feat first documented in Great Potato War video, which gained 35.8 million views.
In the video, Alex makes several references to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” in an attempt to overthrow the main potato producer of the time, a player who uses the moniker im_a_squid_kid. After Technoblade sees that a competitor has created a rendering of the Mona Lisa in his Minecraft lair, he states that im_a_squid_kid is not just a “potato madman, but a potato supervillain”.
Offline identity protection
In the video, Alex talked about going to college (and dropping out constantly playing Minecraft) and mentioned his family from time to time, but there was a clear line between Alex, son and brother, and Technoblade. His family sought to maintain this confidentiality after his death and declined to be interviewed.
Alex announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer in August 2021 joke video in which he also mentioned that he was 22 at the time. He didn’t specify what type of cancer he had, but his followers speculated that he had sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones and soft tissues, because he set up a fundraiser for the Sarcoma Foundation of America on his YouTube. page. He raised over $500,000 for the organization before the “So Long Nerds” video was released.
The foundation, which created a dedicated donation page for Technoblade, said that 17,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with sarcoma in 2022 and more than 7,200 people will die from the disease.
After Alex died, his fans encouraged eligible people to donate blood to help cancer patients.
Riley, a 21-year-old Connecticut resident, regularly donates blood in honor of a friend who died of sarcoma, and most recently she donated blood in honor of Technoblade. She said that his death was even more difficult due to her earlier loss. “I cried like a baby for a couple of hours,” she said. (Riley spoke on the condition that her last name not be given because she has experienced online bullying.)
She’s been playing Minecraft for about 10 years, but only discovered Technoblade in the early days of the pandemic when she worked grueling shifts at the grocery store. “There wasn’t much joy in my life from being a key worker,” she said.
She liked Technoblade’s humor and introduced the video to some of her colleagues, who were reminded of his famous potato war at work. “One night we stocked up on potatoes and just started laughing,” she said.
Technoblade inspired Riley to start streaming videos of her playing video games or streaming under the name Notable_Crayon. It was a great way to relax, she said, but it also showed her why someone as popular as Technoblade is protective of his offline identity.
From time to time, people will find out Riley’s full name and send her “spooky” messages, she said. She also has a friend who was a victim slap, false reports of crimes being committed in order to bring armed police to the victim’s home. Her friend was not hurt, but others were hurt, and one man killed by police and another I’m dying of a heart attack.
In the “so long nerds” video, Alex’s father reads a letter that he says his son wrote about eight hours before he died. In the letter, Alex acknowledged the consequences of sharing personal information online and revealed that he and his brother successfully convinced online fans that his name was Dave using that name in a 2016 video that was later deleted.
Alex said the prank resulted in “thousands of creepy online dudes trying to get personal asking, ‘Oh, hi, Dave, how are you?’
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For some fans, Alex’s secret identity has added a confusing layer of grief.
Richard England, vicar of Crofton parish on the south coast of the UK, said his teens were devastated by Alex’s death and had several conversations about how not knowing Technoblade’s offline identity affected their grief.
“With this new online-offline world that we have, many of them will feel like they know Technoblade and the other members of these online communities better than they know the kids in their own school,” he said. England, 47, said. “They’ll spend the same amount of time with them.”
In Canada, Noel and Ilana’s mother, Janice, admitted that she was initially skeptical about the idea that you can enjoy watching videos of someone else playing video games. But she said the girls taught her about the world of Minecraft and its personalities, which she now appreciates.
Janice, 52, was well-suited to coping with her children’s grief over Technoblade because she says she previously worked with children in grief as a child life specialist, a role that helps children and families cope. with the stress they experience due to health issues, hospitalizations and bereavement. .
She said that adults generally want to protect children from bad feelings, but it’s important to give them the opportunity to express or not express what they think about Technoblade.
“If we help our children cope with grief when they are experiencing it,” she said, “then they will be able to cope better when they get older and there are other situations in their lives that will make them grieve.”
During a video call with her daughters, Janice said that her Maryland sister called after Technoblade’s death because her son was also a big fan. “The boy decided to raise money for a sarcoma fund,” Janice said, prompting Ilana to turn to her mother and ask, “Is there any way I can help him with this?”