‘So long nerds’: YouTube star Technoblade dies aged 23

Technoblade, a YouTube personality who built a following of millions with his wry commentary on videos of himself playing Minecraft, has died, his father announced in a video posted on his son’s account.

More than 11 million subscribers made a habit of watching screen recordings of Technoblade’s Minecraft gameplay as he provided commentary off camera. Although the 23-year-old usually focused on what was happening in the game, in some videos he described life events as mundane as going to the Department of Motor Vehicles or as devastating as receiving a cancer diagnosis.

A video titled “so long nerds”, which was posted on Technoblade’s YouTube channel on Thursday and has been viewed more than 44 million times as of Sunday and featured about 1 million comments, departed from the channel’s usual aesthetic of colourful, pixilated bricks. Instead, a man who identifies himself as Technoblade’s father appears, sitting in a chair against a stark white background with a small white dog in his lap.

His father, who does not give his name, reads a message from his son that begins: “Hello, everyone. Technoblade here. If you are watching this, I am dead.”

The message goes on to reveal Technoblade’s first name, Alex, which he did not use online. The video also features a handful of photos of Alex with loved ones. He had rarely shown himself in his YouTube videos, preferring instead to present himself as his avatar: a crowned, sword-wielding pig.

“If I had another hundred lives, I think I would choose to be Technoblade again every single time,” Alex’s letter says. “Those were the happiest years of my life.”

The death of Technoblade was revealed in an emotional video in which his father revealed the popular YouTuber’s name was Alex.

His father, who remains emotional throughout the video, says he and his son talked for months about whether to record a final video. Instead, Alex decided to write the letter and died about eight hours after finishing it, his father says.

“I don’t think he said everything he wanted to say, but I think he got the main points,” he says.

The video ends with a written statement attributed to Alex’s mother, who is not named. She wrote that her son avoided personal fame and was self-deprecating, even as his channel skyrocketed in popularity.

“From Technoblade’s earliest online days, he was always strategising ways to delight and reward his audience, giving away online prizes, encouraging good sportsmanship and, most of all, sharing his Minecraft adventures for entertainment and laughs,” she wrote.

Alex’s family could not be reached Friday. Hypixel, a gaming company that worked with Technoblade, said the family had asked that requests for comment not be forwarded to them. “The video they shared contains all information they are comfortable sharing at this time,” Don Pireso, the company’s lead administrator, said in a Twitter direct message.

Alex first publicly acknowledged his cancer diagnosis in a video posted on his channel in August. Like the others, the video showed the game while he spoke off camera. He retained his self-deprecating, humorous style, refusing to get too earnest. He also revealed his age at the time, 22.

In the video, he described how the first round of chemotherapy left him so exhausted that he could barely sit up for a virtual doctor’s appointment. Then, he joked: “Sitting in a chair, am I Superman?”

He said he was diagnosed after experiencing serious pain in his arm. He initially dismissed it as a repetitive stress injury from playing video games, but even after a few days of rest, he said, his shoulder “was swelling like crazy.”

He also implored people to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the cancer treatments had weakened his immune system, putting him at greater risk of serious illness from the coronavirus.

“I’m going to go ahead and speak on behalf of all cancer patients when I say it is incredibly annoying when the hospitals are getting overworked by people dying of preventable diseases,” he said in the video. “I’m just saying, we’ve got dibs on those hospital beds.”

On social media, Technoblade’s friends and fans praised him for his humour and for being a role model among Minecraft players.

Minecraft is unlike most games because its owner, Microsoft, does not control the servers where players meet online. Players can instead create their own servers or join one made by someone else, creating a sprawling network of worlds in the Minecraft universe.

Hypixel, which runs a network of Minecraft servers, said it had created a digital memorial book for people to write messages that would be printed and sent to Technoblade’s family. The company’s tribute featured an illustration of Technoblade’s pig avatar as a statue. “In many ways, the success of many of us is tied to the success of Technoblade,” the company said.

One of Technoblade’s friends, YouTuber Thomas Simons, better known as TommyInnit, described him on Twitter as a “legend.”

“I just know,” Simons wrote, “he’s strategising in heaven on how to beat God.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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