Last year we shared with you the story of a young boy whose simple wish for a fun place to play in EQII brought the community together in an unparalleled way. In order to make an extra special place for Ribbitribbit, adventurers, raiders, and crafters left their guilds -- heck, even their servers -- to come aid in what became more than a simple island refuge. It became a multi-house playground that included a Tier 3 guild hall. The sheer volume of enthusiastic participation is enough to make any heart swell. Sadly, shortly thereafter Ribbitribbit lost his battle with cancer, and that same community mourned his passing. Now, one year later, the same organizer who uncorked that first outpouring of generosity has brought players together again to commemorate community, continue philanthropy, and remember those who have been lost.
Today's Tattered Notebook invites you to become a part of this community with a look at Ribbitribbit Day 2013.
I first became aware of this event via EverQuest II's launchpad, which boldly announced the gathering to all who logged in. I then had the pleasure of sitting down with the event's coordinator, Sylestia of the Guk server, to discuss this year's event as well as the plans for the future.
The reason for this season
Although it would be perfectly understandable if attending the event were too painful, Ribbitribbit's parents not only attended but shared the story of what transpired a year ago with all the new faces in the crowd. What better story to exemplify community spirit and compassion than one where scores of players dropped everything to speed level a guild high enough to obtain and decorate a T3 guild hall in 70 hours? A story where people dug into their hearts, their banks, and even their pocketbooks (for server transfers) in support one young Froglok.
Once everyone had a grasp on the foundations of the project from Myrose and Oogally, the group toured the decorated homes to see the scope of it. I, too, toured the homes, but during a more private time; I poked my head in treehouses, slid down a rainbow, oogled a gingerbread house, followed a roller coaster track, prowled a candy-strewn ship with a pirate Troll band, sat on a Ferris wheel, played hopscotch, shimmied up a climbing wall, and meandered through a marvelous mansion zoo (where the spotted leopard escaped and followed my Ratonga around!). And then I sat for a moment. My breath caught at a statue of Ribbitribbit himself on a bridge in his playground, wearing the same dashing ensemble -- complete with hat -- and sporting the same wings.
Even though I was alone and a year had passed since the homes were made, I was awed and even caught off-guard by the power of emotions that still hit after all this time. I admit to tearing up as well as smiling many a time. If you have never before seen these amazing structures, or even if you have, I encourage you to take a moment and do so now. All it takes is a level 1 character on the Guk server, and since the game is free-to-play, even those who have never set foot in EQII before can jump in and witness this amazing tribute to a community pulling together, a family, and a little boy.
Not only have parents Myrose and Oogally graciously kept their son's treasured homes open for others to wander through and remember, but they've supported creating a special memorial for all those who have lost someone. In a message conveyed to me from Myrose herself, she remarked that "the community is amazing" and "how great it would be if everyone had a place in Norrath where they could feel close to someone they have lost." In that light, Sylestia has set up a memorial shrine within the walls of the Lillipad Jungle guild hall. Players can at any time slip into the room to read, reflect, and remember.
While only a few memorials are currently in place (including a magnificent, tear-inducing poem written by Sylestia to Myrose about Ribbitribbit), a few folks took books and signs home from the event to compose words when they felt less emotional. However, players didn't have to be present and don't even have to be from Guk to add something to the memorial. Anyone desiring to have a message placed need only send an in-game mail to Guk.Sylestia; she has tons of books and signs just waiting to be filled, and she'll transcribe your words and add them to the collection. As time passes, the hope is to fill the room with memories of those who have passed as well as tributes to friendships that haven't.
According to Sylestia, some players just added items to the shrine, such as teddy bears or pillows for guests to sit on. Too bad crafting does not allow naming as SWG did to personalize even these offerings!
The final component of Ribbitribbit day was the Pay it Forward event, when Norrathians were encouraged to share their wealth with new and more casual players. The response was overwhelming, literally. Not nearly as many showed up to take advantage of the free gifts (whose only stipulation to receive was to someday do something nice for someone else) as did those trying to give the gifts! Plenty of players showed up to donate on top of the 30-40 volunteers that were already slated to help out!
On top of all that, many signs and books were also donated for the memorial, and Niami Denmother passed out treats to visitors throughout the event. It may not have been on the scale of last year's event, but the generosity of players was still strong and a testament to the community.
To infinity and beyond!
Unlike last year's gathering, this year was not about compiling mass quantities of goods, coin, and status to create a child's dream. Although he inspired it, Ribbitribbit Day is about more than just one boy. Instead, it's about remembering. Remembering and keeping that community spirit alive. Remembering those we've lost. Remembering what we have.
I asked Sylestia what her favorite part of this year's inaugural Ribbitribbit Day was. Her answer? "Seeing so many people remember everything from last year so fondly. And how people who have seen some of the more amazing aspects of the decorations are still amazed seeing them again."
My thanks to Sylestia for sharing her time with me and to Myrose and Oogally for sharing their son's story with the community. And a heartfelt thanks to the EverQuest II community, players and devs alike, who made such a thing possible and shined a warm light on our humanity. May we never forget.
EverQuest II is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores Norrathian nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running every other Saturday, The Tattered Notebook is your resource for all things EQII and EQNext -- and catch MJ every 'EverQuest Two-sday' on Massively TV!