Sean Smith, a U.S. state department official, was killed in Libya on Tuesday, after armed men raided the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, raiding the compound with grenades before setting it on fire. Smith was better known online as Vile Rat - director of the notorious EVE Online alliance Goonswarm.
Vile Rat - also a former member of the player-elected Council of Stellar Management - was reportedly connected to an in-game chat at the time, where he swore, reported "GUNFIRE" and then disconnected. Friends report that he used to do that - when posted in Baghdad he'd mention incoming sirens, vanish and then pop back online a little while later. This time, he never reconnected, and the reports of the Benghazi attack started filtering through online channels.
This attack was in response to a film produced in the U.S., which allegedly insulted the Prophet Mohammed. The date is no coincidence, as Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco - a long-time friend of Vile Rat's, writes on his blog:
Obviously, given the combined attacks in Egypt and in Libya, this was a coordinated act designed for maximum media exposure; rile up a mob, point them at an embassy or consulate on 9/11 in particular, aim for the press. Many were injured in these pointless, reprehensible acts, and one of my closest friends was killed as a result.
Earlier in the day, Vile Rat had observed "one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures", suggesting that something unusual may be afoot.
The Goonswarm alliance were notified when The Mittani posted the following message:
My people, I have grievous news. Vile Rat has been confirmed to be KIA in Benghazi; his family has been informed and the news is likely to break out on the wire services soon. Needless to say, we are in shock, have no words, and have nothing but sympathy for his family and children. I have known Vile Rat since 2006, he was one of the oldest of old-guard goons and one of the best and most effective diplomats this game has ever seen.
His family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Vile Rat worked as a diplomat in the virtual world as well as his real-world posting, with The Mittani explaining that "you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by [his] talent". He also attended Council of Stellar Management meet-ups in Iceland and the U.S., and played as a spy for the Goonfleet Intelligence Agency, infiltrating Lotka Volterra as well as building Jabberlon5.
Vile Rat leaves behind a wife and two children. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the information management officer as "one of the best".
In closing, The Mittani:
It seems kind of trivial to praise a husband, father, and overall badass for his skills in an internet spaceship game but that's how most of us know him, so there you go.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
Like me on Facebook?
Jimmy the Geek