Total War Fan Who Lost Battle With Cancer Remembered In Rome 2

By March 19, 2013

As we gamers are known for being a passionate lot and for taking care of our own in times of need; this is one of those times that makes me smile every time I think of it.

As part of the Willow “Special Day” initiative that provides special days for the seriously ill ages 16-40 (think the U.K. version of “Make-A-Wish Foundation”), last summer, a Total War fan got to do something not even the press had done at that point: play a build of Total War: Rome 2.

In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, here’s a peek at what James was able to play before the rest of the world.

Battling liver cancer at age 24 and once he heard a sequel to his fave game was announced, James’ wish was to tour the creators of the PC game’s studio, Creative Assembly.

Accompanied by his brother, not only did he get to try out some never before seen code, he also saw all the bells and whistles and was able to give his thoughts about the gameplay.

And in something ALL gamers dream of, Creative Assembly took it one step beyond and made James a part of Rome 2 as a dashing and fierce Roman soldier during the Siege of Carthage (above).

Craig Laycock, community manager for Total War had nothing but lovely things to say about James’ day at the studio and how the team were “moved and humbled” by his visit.

“What really struck me was how my colleagues reacted to James coming in. I was inundated with emails offering help with James’ day. The tour organised itself, as the guys around me scrambled to show James what’s going into making Rome 2. James was remarkable on the day. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. He asked passionate questions and offered clear and concise suggestions on features for the game.”

After his visit to Creative Assembly, James lost his battle with liver cancer and the studio felt like they had lost a close friend.

Laycock said “When I recently learned that James had died, it was devastating. Even though I had only spent a few hours in his company, it was absolutely devastating, because he was able to show us all here in the studio how passionate he was for our games. And although he won’t get the chance to see Rome 2 released, he will live on in some small way in our game – and every time I see him I’ll be reminded of what a great guy he was.”

Laycock also said James embodied the reasons why studios like theirs continue to strive for the people who play their games. “In many ways, James represented what’s best about working in video games: crafting games that people enjoy and that stay with them. It’s why we all do what we do, and why we’re so passionate about it. He really brought that home to us.”

While I’m saddened to know James lost his life at such a young age, I like to think he passed on knowing he’ll forever be a part of something that made him happy.

No word yet on Total War: Rome 2’s release date but if you pick it up, be sure to raise a chalice to that handsome soldier when you get to the Battle of Carthage.

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee