The brilliant, highly respected emulator developer Near (previously known as Byuu) appears to have taken their own life.
Concerns first arose yesterday evening, when the famously private programmer tweeted a photo of themselves followed by a string of messages suggesting suicidal intent.
Then, early this morning, well-known security consultant and hacker Hector “Marcan” Martin shared a Google document (content warning: contains explicit details) said to be authored by a real-life friend of Near’s, which is widely being accepted as proof of their death.
Writing in their Twitter thread, Near, who identified as nonbinary, recounted a lifelong history of bullying, which continued online over the years and more recently became centralized around notorious internet cyberbullying hub Kiwi Farms.
But Kiwi Farms has made the harassment orders of magnitude worse. It’s escalated from attacking me for being autistic, to attacking and doxing my friends, and trying to suicide bait another, just to get a reaction from me. I lost one of my best friends to this. I feel responsible.
The internet is not a game. It’s real life. I’m a real person. This stuff really hurts. I poured my entire life into this. I have no real-life friends, I have no other reason for being. Only this. And now I have nothing.
It’s too late for me, but I pray that someone, at some point, will do something about that website. There’s too many people suffering, and no one seems to care because we are relative nobodies online, and they know that. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
Near rose to prominence in 2004 with the creation of bsnes (later renamed higan), which quickly grew to become the single most accurate emulator of Nintendo’s 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Near famously scanned some 1,200 Super Nintendo games, down to their circuit boards, in pursuit of long-term preservation and truly cycle-accurate emulation that covered all possible edge cases.
More recently, they were in the news for releasing a much-improved translation of Square’s 1996 Super Famicom RPG Bahamut Lagoon.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the U.S. is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255. A list of international suicide hotlines can be found here.