Onward (2017) is a military-style VR shooter with some of the most ardent players who regularly engage in a sort of amped-up version of paintball. It plays host to fierce competition, and with it comes a certain camaraderie that has bound players together in one of the most hardcore userships. An avid player passed away recently, and in an outpouring of support, many members of the Onward community responded by donating to his fiancé and young child via a GoFundMe fundraiser.
Austin Aiken, better know in Onward as ‘Capptin’, was a foreman in the tree service industry in Clearwater, Florida. Aiken passed away on May 1st at the age of 26 in a motorcycle accident. We didn’t know Capptin, so his family speaks on his behalf, taken from the GoFundMe description:
Austin was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident the evening of May 1, 2018. He leaves behind his fiancé Nikki McKenzie and his 2 year old son Aidan Aiken. Austin did not have any savings or life insurance. All donations received will go directly to Nikki and baby Aidan to help them stay in the home they shared with Austin.
At the time of this writing, the total amount has reached more than $7,800 through the family’s GoFundMe fundraiser. Around 16 Onward players have publicly donated, putting ‘Onward’ after their gamertag, which includes a $4,000 donation from Downpour Interactive developer Dante Buckley, the mind behind Onward.
Downpour Interactive also issued a statement in their latest update, which will see a pair of dog tags added to the starting area as an act of commemoration.
We also wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing away of a beloved member of the Onward community, Austin Aiken (better known in the community as ‘Capptin’). We found out the news early yesterday and that Austin’s fiancé had started a GoFundMe fundraiser to help with their finances as a result of his passing. We are absolutely blown away by the generosity of our community on the fundraiser and we’re extremely proud to have such incredible people playing our game. As a tribute to Austin, we’re adding a small commemoration into the game, in the form of dog tags in the loadout tent. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Austin’s friends and family.
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VR is like a stem cell; it brings rise to many different things. It’s an outlet for creation, a place to play and explore – both alone and in the company of others—and while it no doubt offers a measure of insulation from the harsh realities outside, it can also bring us closer together, closing both the physical and mental gaps that separate us.
Our thoughts and hopes go out to Aiken’s family in their time of need.