Following Final Fantasy XIV Fanfest COVID outbreak, one fan admits guilt – in a comic


An apparent COVID-19 outbreak at Final Fantasy XIV’s Fanfest in Las Vegas a week and a half ago has been punctuated by one fan who admitted to unwittingly bringing the virus along with him and exposing fellow attendees – and then turned the whole experience into a comic, sending sick players into an understandable rage online.

FFXIV player and fan artist Fenrir told his story in a multi-part hand-drawn comic, inviting players to “enjoy some schadenfreude” at his expense. He says he’d been traveling for work for two weeks prior to the event, attended a dinner with friends the night before the big show, and then woke up the morning of Fanfest with a chill that prompted him to take Dayquil and mask up before proceeding onward to the packed keynote presentation (which he deemed mid). By the time he sat down to eat a meal again with friends, he was sick enough to return to his hotel and then and only then took a COVID test, which was positive. The remainder of the comic is spent on panic, guilt, pity, anger at the hotel and wasted money, and the eventual decision to leave Fanfest and then travel home while contagious.

The Twitter thread playing host to the comic, as well as the now-locked Reddit thread where it was cross-posted, has since devolved into angry recriminations from people who say they contracted COVID-19 at the event – some of whom claim to have been in pretty serious condition. The overall sentiment is horror, rage, and shock that Fenrir didn’t test before dining at the event after traveling or the morning of the keynote once he started experiencing symptoms bad enough to need Dayquil – and moreover, that anyone would admit to any of this at all, let alone in a comic.

“Patient 0 really out here making a comic about how they spread Covid at the convention,” one player posted.

“[I] didn’t go to fanfest, but if [I] did, and even if [I] had the gall to mingle with fanfest crowds while having flu symptoms, you still couldn’t even waterboard this shit out of me, let alone make a 10-page comic about it,” said another.

In his follow-up post, which has been downvoted 385 times as I type this, Fenrir says he didn’t knowingly attend the con to spread illness and had “absolutely 0 signs of anything wrong except a sudden chill” (for which he took Dayquil and wore a mask, which Redditors continue to flag as an incriminating inconsistency).

“In hindsight I could have done better by immediately taking a rapid test, but I have to admit, my judgement [sic] was clouded by the excitement for the day ahead. Either way, I hope this response conveys my opinion & reason of judgement at the time. I had no notion that I was actually sick until I was already out of the venue & having lunch with my friends. Take as how you will, but my comic was more of a ‘haha look how shitty my luck was, laugh at me’ kind of deal. If you still feel I did wrong by attending the con in my fleeting moment, then I deeply apologize – regrettably, I must admit, as brief as it was, I may still have contributed to the spread :/ Hope that clears things up, and that there’s no hard feelings! Please do take care, and I’m hoping that you have a swift recovery & have no long lasting effects of Covid either!”

It’s impossible to pin all the blame for the outbreak on one player, especially given the likelihood that other people brought COVID with them (the United States is currently in the midst of a summer pandemic wave); other attendees made their own decisions to travel to the crowded venue, forego masking, and eat in enclosed spaces, after three and a half years of safety data on the risk calculations involved. Additionally, as a few lone voices have pointed out, Fenrir did make some effort to mask, test, and ultimately depart the event rather than exacerbate the spread, even if his efforts were minimal, suspect, and way too late. But he – and likely other infected gamers who won’t be admitting their culpability in a comic – potentially jeopardized the health of hundreds of people at the con, hotels, airports, Ubers, and restaurants along the way, and there’s no good way to read that as self-deprecatory “schadenfreude” or have “no hard feelings” if you’re among those affected.

MMO gamers will recall that last year’s EVE Fanfest, whose promised safety precautions were tossed after tickets had already been sold, was also ruined by a huge COVID outbreak that sickened devs, trapped players in Iceland, and sent one gamer to the hospital with COVID pneumococcal meningitis and sepsis.

Source: Twitter, Reddit. With thanks to Samantha.
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