Death of a troll | Alina Simone

In the tight-knit online gaming community Epic Mafia, Eris was an infamous celebrity. So when news of his suicide reached the forums, many players were grief stricken. But in a virtual world where it pays to lie, could it really be true?

Everyone who played Epic Mafia knew Eris, or at least knew of him. In real life, he was a 32-year-old computer programmer, who lived alone with his border collie in upstate New York, but in the tight-knit online gaming community of Epic Mafia, he was a celebrity, the impresario of the site’s many forums, constantly flirting, philosophising, gossiping. In the seven years since the site had launched, he had formed many intense friendships with people he had never met, but who had come to depend on him. Eris had the gift of easy intimacy. He asked real questions. He wanted to know you. And best of all, he was always right there when you needed him: online.

“Many people will probably wonder why I’ve decided to do this,” read the beginning of the suicide note that Eris had scheduled to appear on his Tumblr on 27 April 2015, two days after his death. “I was sexually abused as a child … and have dealt with the consequences of that my entire life. Imagine going through life with an ever-present shadow hanging over you, worrying if you too might be like the people who destroyed your childhood and life.”

There are no boards, dice, or cute moulded pieces in Mafia, only one player’s word against another’s

Eris had long been the most powerful mischief-maker in Epic Mafia. He was a computer prodigy. He began programming at 11

I do know that if there is a hell, I’ll be seeing many of you there, I’ll keep the fires stoked

Maybe no one believed that Eris, known as a notorious gossip, was capable of taking secrets to his grave

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