If you're involved in World of Warcraft, you may have heard about Ezra Chatterton. Likely many fathers and sons outthere, Ezra and his dad bonded over the MMO and spent lots of time together playing the game, which was especially important to them since Ezra's parents are divorced and he didn't get to see his dad was much as they'd both like. What really sets Ezra apart, though, is that he was dealing with a debilitating brain tumor. His dream was to become a game developer and through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the 10-year-old teamed up with Blizzard to experience some of what it is like to design games.
Blizzard set up an amazing trip for Ezra to their main office. He spent the day helping Jeff Kaplan design a legendary bow, a new character/quest (Ahab Wheathood). He added his dog to the game as part of the quest and even got to do the voice-over for his new character. As part of this Blizzard-y goodness, his personal character was bumped to a Level 70 with the best gear and enough gold to last him a long while. He also became the first player to ride the phoenix mount in the game.
This is a truly heartwarming story about a developer really showing their dedication to the fans. Sadly, this is where the heartwarming part ends. A few months ago, Ezra suffered a stroke, and on Monday, he passed away, never getting to realize his dream of becoming a tester and developer for Blizzard. Video games can't solve all problems, of course, but it is really nice to hear about a community coming together to care about a little boy who loved this industry so much.
R.I.P. Our thoughts are with Ezra's friends and family.