I’m terrible at writing these things but I’m doing it anyway. For most random people who read Geek Bravado, this blog won’t have much meaning but my fellow Gamers With Jobs members will sadly know what it’s about. It was told to us by his sister today that Nick Keiser, also known as ianunderhill from the community, passed away after a long battle with cancer. After finding out about it rather suddenly some time ago and undergoing a lengthy battle, he appeared to be winning the war. Then recently, he informed us that his condition had slid to the point where he would have to leave Chicago where he lived and move in with his parents in Florida. He had just completed that move when he took a sharp turn for the worse and passed away this morning with both of his parents by his side.
I was standing at an airport, waiting for my girlfriend to return from a work trip to Iqaluit when the news starting breaking on Twitter that something bad had happened on GWJ. I thought it was another one of the contentious Politics & Controversy threads getting locked or something, then I saw someone use the hashtag #fuckcancer. My heart immediately dropped and I fiercely tried to get my crappy BlackBerry to load the site. When I saw how many new posts were in the thread dedicated to giving Nick best wishes for his fight with cancer (yeah, that’s the kind of awesome thing that happens at GWJ), my heart sank further. The airport was busy and there was nowhere to sit and I started having a hard time keeping upright as I read the news. My girlfriend came down the escalator and I mustered a smile to welcome her home but then she immediately saw something was wrong.
Like most of my friends from Gamers With Jobs, I sadly only knew Nick in a virtual sense. I interacted with him on the forums, on Twitter and in the many matches of the new Syndicate’s online co-op mode that we played on the Xbox 360 (StanliTech represent!) He was one of only a handful of people who stuck around for almost my entire 24 hour live stream of Dark Souls for Extra Life last year, just hanging out and keeping me awake with friendly banter. He was also a fixture on GWJ’s IRC channel, though I almost never poke my head in there. It’s going to be a great regret in my life that I never had the chance to meet him in the flesh. But also like most of my friends from that site, I still feel like we all knew him a great deal as a person. The site and its community have a natural ability to create friendships as real and meaningful as any you would get in the “real world.”
What I always admired about Nick was that he never let anything get him down and was almost always in a good mood. Even when he was in the depth of fighting cancer, one which he was diagnosed with very suddenly and without warning, he was always upbeat and positive, always talking up his victories and treating the setbacks as just new challenges to overcome. What he endured would have broken the spirit of a great many, myself included I think but Nick not only persevered, he did it with a smile on his face. He was surrounded by a loving and giving community of people, both on Gamers With Jobs and in Chicago where he lived. Seeing the huge fundraiser put on by his co-workers from the small bike shop he worked at and how they welcomed him back to work after his long absence (sadly for far too short a time before he had to stop again) was proof enough of that. Seeing how he acted towards others, it’s no surprise that he had so many willing to help him out. He was one of those guys you could’ve just sat and had beers with and never run out of things to talk about and who would always be more interested in listening to you ramble on about some inane piece of banality before even remotely talking about his own serious situations. He was just a really good dude.
Much like Ryan Davis last month, I truly feel like I’ve lost a close friend today, even more so because I did know Nick and interact with him regularly. Gamers With Jobs and the world in general are lesser today having lost a shining gem of a human being. This world would be a much better place if there were more people like Nick in it. It’s a massive injustice that he left us so soon and it’s so incredibly unfair. I wish to offer my deepest condolences to Nick’s family and other friends. It doesn’t mean much but I will also be dedicating this year’s Extra Life live show to him as well. I like to think that would have made him smile, I hope so. A great person has been lost today and it’s wrong, it’s unfair and it’s not just in any way. He touched a lot of people’s lives and none of us will forget him any time soon.
RIP Nick, you will be missed. There will always be a seat on the StanliTech board open for you. #fuckcancer indeed.