When we thought about how best to pay tribute our dear friend and colleague Laura Genender we decided that we should write, as much or as little as we felt that we needed to, to tell everyone a little bit about a woman that we here at MMORPG.com were proud to call a colleague and a friend.
When you've finished reading, we would like to encourage you to spend some time in the forums, either reading some of the many posts that have already been made about Laura or posting something of your own. We know that she had interactions with many of you and would love to hear any thoughts or stories that you may have.
Jon Wood, MMORPG.com Managing Editor
The first time that I ever met Laura Genender was at my very first E3. What struck me most about her was the way that she interacted with people. Before that day, we hadn’t ever met face to face but within the span of an hour, it felt as though we had been friends for years. I remember thinking about that with surprise after all of the hooplah and excitement of E3 was over. This had never been something that I was good at, making instant friends, but as our friendship grew I came to realize that this was just a normal part of who Laura was. She had many friends in many different places. Friends of all shapes, sizes and genders that she always seemed to have time for, no matter the circumstance. It was always a tough run to track her down at shows and conventions. Between interviews and after hours, she was always tracking someone down “just to say hello” or visiting with some really close friends she hadn’t seen in ages. Thinking back on it, it’s a wonder she managed to get any work done at all, and yet she somehow always did.
It was right before that same E3 that Laura (via AIM) offered to give me dancing lessons. I’m not talking about hip-hop and the like, I’m talking about more classical dance forms. The samba is a good example (you can see a clip of her dancing on Youtube). Laura had the amazing ability to be “one of the guys” one minute and graceful and dainty the next. She’d have been mad at me for saying it that way. Gender stereotypes just weren’t her thing and she proved daily that they just don’t match up… at least where she was concerned.
As a gamer, Laura was about as hardcore as you get. She even had an old laptop that she still carried around because sometimes it would let her play EQII. She was as tough as they come and loved PvP, especially when someone underestimated her. She always took great delight in proving those people wrong and I think that she may have secretly taken pride in doing the same thing in real life. When someone underestimated her due to her size, her age or her gender, she always proved them wrong in the end.
She felt very passionately about games, and MMORPGs in particular. I think it was because they let her kick ass and be social all at the same time.
As a volunteer, Laura wrote articles and reviews for the site. Her love of, enthusiasm for and knowledge of MMORPGs was obvious, and it always showed in her writing. That, and her easy way with people, fair-handedness and experience made her an obvious choice when we were looking for a Community Manager.
Laura told me once that her job wasn’t to police the forums. She said that the job was about making a safe and comfortable place for our users to post. Handing out bans and warnings was a harder thing for her to do then you might imagine. Whenever a complaint of petition came across her desk, she took the time not only to thoroughly investigate the matter but to respond to each email personally and while everyone may not have been 100% pleased with her decisions, I can assure you that they were made with consideration for each case not just as a user , but as a gamer.
During her time at MMORPG.com, her contributions to the site were many and are still visible on the site today and will remain for some time to come. For those of you who have attended any of our Dev Chats in the past, it was Laura who really pioneered that program by not only setting up, administering and even on occasion modding the chats, but also in designing the chat bot that made the whole thing work.
Most memorably to me, on her own time and un-prompted, Laura hosted a 24 hour marathon chat during some EVE Online downtime. She hung around the whole time, chatting with other players and helping to make sure that her event was a success. It wasn’t because anyone asked her to, it was because she wanted to do it. As far as I know, she was there most of the 24 hours. I remember telling her to go and get some rest, but anyone who knew Laura knew that suggesting she do something would likely be ignored if she had her mind set on something… Another admirable trait.
Laura also paved the way for our Guild List. From day one, Laura wanted us to be more involved with guilds and she worked hard to make sure that when we launched our Guild List feature that it worked as well as she had hoped.
When Laura told us that she was moving on from her position here to join the team at CCP, there were mixed feelings. As her co-worker and Managing Editor here at MMORPG.com, I was sad to lose such a valuable member of our team. As her friend though, I was thrilled that she had the opportunity to make the move into the development side of community. It was something that she had often talked about, leaving journalism and going into development, and I am glad that she had the opportunity. Laura had a bright future in this industry, and I honestly believe that the MMORPG genre is a little bit worse for the loss of someone that I think would have made a significant contribution to the future development of our games.
I could honestly go on for a while listing her professional accomplishments, she had a lot of them in her short time with us but that isn’t the side of her that we’re all going to miss the most. Already, I know that I miss her teasing and her quick wit. I miss her smile that was always genuine. I miss her firey spirit and her kindness. Most of all though, when it comes right down to it… I really just miss my friend.
Craig McGregor, CEO MMORPG.com
I wish that I had known Laura as closely as many of my team did. I did not get to attend shows with her or even meet her in person for that matter. I did, however, have the pleasure of interacting with Laura almost daily through emails and occasionally on the telephone. She made me laugh all the time with her great sense of humor and sharp wit. Laura was a master of taking a chaotic situation and resolving it with logic, professionalism and sound judgment and joking about it at the end of the day. As her former employer, I could not honestly think of one thing that I wish she had been better at, or that I disliked about her personality or her performance. She was remarkably self-driven, organized and was filled with many great ideas and the drive to see them through. Her list of talents seemed endless and she was not afraid to venture into new things and learn new skills. You go through life only meeting or interacting with a few people like this and while my experiences with her were fewer than many others, I am thankful for the time that I got to have her on my team and for all of the great things she brought to MMORPG.com. She genuinely wanted to make our forums and community a better, useful and more fun place for the members – and I believe that she accomplished this.
With her passing, we have all lost a good friend and the entire gaming community has lost a very promising shining star. At 23 years old Laura had already accomplished more than a lot of people do by 40. I admired her drive and devotion and learned from her throughout her time here. I will miss her and I hope that she is somewhere wonderful now.
Dana Massey, Former Editor MMORPG.com (currently Managing Editor, Massive Gamer Online)
Of everyone I've met who works in video games, I can say without hesitation that it was Laura who loved them the most. Her passion was unrivaled.
She always had a smile on her face, like a kid in a candy store, even if it was the fourth time she'd attended that gaming event. Too often, those of us who write about games forget what brought us here in the first place and become jaded. She never lost touch with that spark and her enthusiasm reminded those of us who knew her just how lucky we were.
Yet, somehow, she managed to balance that love of gaming with a critical and very argumentative mind. It didn't matter the gaming topic, Laura had an opinion on it. I will miss those arguments terribly.
Laura, it was a pleasure to have known you. You were around all too briefly, but you got to live your dream in the time you were here. It won't be the same without you.
If you're interested in seeing samples of her work, below you will find a number of links to articles and interviews that Laura conducted with us here at MMORPG.com:
Tabula Rasa Beta Preview - http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/gameId/150/setView/features/loadFeature/1459
Rise of Kunark Preview - http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/2/feature/1489/from/previews
Video Interview with Acclaim - http://www.mmorpg.com/showVideo.cfm/videoId/1193
These are just a few of the contributions that Laura made to the site, and if you're interested in reading more, they're out there and plentiful :)
We also wanted to share with you an article that Laura's college posted about her and her job in the industry. It's a great read: https://www.blueridgelax.org/news/?id=2145.
Also, for those who might be interested in making a donation, Laura was a supporter of Child's Play, appropriately enough, a charity that sees video games and systems get to children's hospitals around the world: http://www.childsplaycharity.org/
* Laura's parents have requested that we ask our fine community for letters or stories about Laura. Those can be submitted directly through myself at email@example.com and will be passed on to her family.