How my brother’s passing made me realize how important gaming moments are


Gaming gives us many moments and memories that we can hold on to.

On August 16th 2016, at about 10:07 PM I received a frantic call from my mom telling me that my youngest brother had been found unresponsive by his fiancé. I was the closest relative to their apartment so I turned off Smackdown, had an emotional breakdown to my wife and rushed downtown. When I got to his apartment, it was clear that I wouldn’t ever see my baby-brother’s dorky smile or hear him explain why he was excited to about some game I had no interest in. Thing is, while I waited for the paramedics or whatever they were to prep the body, my brother’s fiance’s brother regaled me with stories how excited he always was over his big brother writing about gaming. Apparently he was known to brag to anyone that would listen, friends, co-workers, Gamestop employees etc. I was sad that he never really shared that with me, but I equally never expressed how cool his music was that he created. Lots of unfinished business.

gamingA few days later, we helped his fiancé clear out their apartment. Blaze was only 24 and lived like your typical college-aged student worker. His computer was filled with software, some legit and some pirated. He had a Xbox One that he had been playing Fallout 4 but didn’t seem to have an active Xbox Live account. I found the many copies of the Halos and Final Fantasy games that he’d tucked away. I also found his copy of Ogre Battle 64, one of his most favorite games of all time. He may had cut down in gaming a little bit but he still had his favorites.

Right around Christmas vacation, I was cleaning up all the clutter in my bedroom when I encountered an old memory card, I pulled out my GameCube from the garage and realized that the save data from our brief stint playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was on the card. I don’t know if I had held onto a 13-year old save data just by chance or if I somehow thought we’d one day finish that game. I couldn’t help but laugh, however, as I realized that if he was still here and I’d told him of this discovery, he would have dug up an old GameBoy Advance and we would have finished the game. At least I’d like to think that was the case.

gamingIt made me think back to games he had told me he was excited for. I recall him once telling me that We Happy Few looked incredibly cool and he couldn’t wait to see the game fleshed out more. One of the last times I spoke with him, he said it would be fun to get together and play co-op on Halo 5, since he specifically bought an Xbox One to play with me and my surviving brother. Ironically, Lucas owns a PS4 whereas I now own 2 Xbox Ones and a PS4. Blaze was always the type to get that so wrong.

There were other things I found on his computer that seemed incredibly intriguing as well. I found out he had League of Legends installed on his computer, a game I had enjoyed playing for years. Did he play it? Was he any good? Who were his favorite characters? I wish I had a chance to play that with him, I probably wouldn’t have quit earlier in 2016. He had other games installed too, there was Final Fantasy XIV, but he never talked about it. Was he paying for it and actively playing? I know he did before a Realm Reborn and he encouraged me to play, but man $15 a month is a bitter pill to swallow. I wasn’t aware he was into online gaming all that much.

gamingThat’s the thing with death. It doesn’t care where you were at in a game and in the online world, death waits for no player. These accounts are likely lost to time and the fact that my brother kept a relatively low profile on the internet. I’ll miss the times that the three of us hauled a 32” tube TV to our local comic book shop to victimize other people at Halo and Halo 2. I’ll never forget getting up early in the morning to play Final Fantasy XI with both of my brothers. They both used to come to my house to play games on the weekends, the time was always filled with laughs.

In the box in the garage that had that GameCube, I also found a SNES controller that was damaged. The wires from this controller had been pulled out from the base, making it able to be plugged in but not operational. This controller was the one we used to give him when Lucas and I played a game and he wanted in as well. It made me realize that one of the reasons that I love video games as much as I do and have the passion to shape a career around the industry was that I got to share so many great memories with my brothers. I’ll be able to make many more memories with my remaining brother, but the memories that Blaze and the rest of us had will always be in the past.

gamingDon’t take the time you have to share with those close to you for granted. Create awesome memories and cherish them for as long as you can, because sometimes, memories may be all you have left. My brother’s love for the Halo series is something I will always remember him for. As a matter of fact, his prized “Red Team” Master Chief is sitting next to his ashes right now. He loved Halo and will always be in my thoughts when we get another game in the series. Those online accounts will be lost to time and email accounts that no one has access to, but cherish the awesome times you have with friends and family. Let those always be special.

Especially ones in video gaming!