The pain of losing a dog cuts deep, and it can hurt even more than losing a close human friend. Dogs don’t live nearly long enough, but when they leave us, they don’t leave us empty handed.
When Daniel Kemp’s Greyhound, Murphy, passed away in April 2018, he left Daniel with almost 10 years worth of memories and more than a little inspiration. At a time when his heart was breaking, Daniel decided right away to heal in a productive way. The same day that Murphy crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Daniel set to work on a memorial that would keep a part of Murphy alive forever.
Daniel, an avid gamer and talented programmer, chose the video game Skyrim as the place for Murphy’s memory to live – and it was an excellent choice. Skyrim is a huge, open world game in which you, the adventurer, can travel through the incredibly beautiful landscape, helping others and completing missions.
The land of Skyrim is huge, with grassy fields, wide open skies, and colorful sunsets – exactly what Heaven might look like for a dog. Daniel put his talents to use to put Murphy into the game, so he’d be there ready to play and join Daniel in his adventures any time.
For a year the “mod” which adds Murphy to the game was unavailable to anyone else, but Daniel recently shared it with others, so that they can play with Murphy, too. He released it to the world with a letter addressed to Murphy:
To my beloved Murphy,
In being such a unique dog, you taught me that we can all live together happily in spite of our differences. That we can make it work.
Even though you are gone, I still feel you in the sun, I still hear you in the wind, I still smell you in the rain, and I still see you in the sky.
I love you and I will never stop missing you. I release you to the world now, so that all of us may remember you together.
To everyone else,
Take care of my boy. He will take care of you.
When a person adds the mod to their Skyrim game, they’ll find Murphy in the busy marketplace of a peaceful town, or warming himself by the fire in the tavern at night. By asking Murphy to follow you, he will faithfully accompany you anywhere you go and never leave unless you ask him to wait.
Daniel told Eurogamer that Murphy was a retired racing Greyhound, and the first dog his family had ever had. After living with Murphy for nearly ten years, the loss hit hard. The mod was a labor of love, and way to get through the heartbreak.
“He and I were very close and we kinda understood each other in a way I didn’t even understand most humans. As you can imagine, his loss was very devastating to me personally. I shut myself out from the world for weeks, and working on this mod was my only solace for a while.”
In-game Murphy looks a lot like Daniel’s departed dog, but more than that, he mirrors real-life Murphy’s personality. In some games (like Minecraft) a dog will protect you from attackers, but in Skyrim, Murphy will run off when there’s trouble. Daniel says that Murphy was not at all aggressive, so having him attack would not have been true to his memory. And in-game Murphy can’t be harmed by attackers or die.
“He will follow you to Sovngarde and back. He is not a fighter, and will flee from combat, but he’ll always come back when it is safe and will make up for it in other ways.
“Weapons will pass right through him, and magic will not even singe his fur. He cannot and will not be harmed. I’m not going to bring my dog back to life just to have him be killed by some bandit.
“Murphy was very gentle in life. He rarely played with chew-toys when he was younger, and never did when he was older. He never barked when he was excited or when strangers came to our house.”
Daniel even found a way for the player to feel the love that Murphy gives. Players will experience positive status effects that Murphy grants his best friend. These will help the play regain health, magic and stamina faster than they usually would.
“He was just so peaceful and loving and so I tried to reflect that in game with his lack of combat and the passive buffs he grants the player.”
Sharing Murphy with the world has helped mend Daniel’s heart even more and spread something good out of his loss. He tells Eurogamer,
“I received so, so many kind and supportive messages. It honestly helped in my recovery process, hearing all these tales of others who had endured similar losses. [It] made me feel less alone and helpless. It was kinda beautiful in a way. And already, the responses to me unhiding the mod today have also been just as supportive and positive.”
“So many bad things happen in the world, and people can be so mean to each other on the internet. I’m just glad I’ve been able to create even a small little environment of just peace and love.”
Murphy may not be here any more, but any time Daniel or anyone else want to see him, they just have to open Skyrim. And someday when the time comes, Daniel and Murphy will be reunited in Sovngarde.
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