Bsnes, first released in 20104, was among the early apps that made emulation accessible to gamers and nontechnical users. The retrogaming obsession they kickstarted went from piracy to the admiralty in record time, reinvigorating a videogame business that had abandoned its back catalogue. Near's work was vast and inclusive, including a new translation of legendary RPG Bahamut Lagoon, thousands of bit-accurate scans of classic carts, and a role in the preservation of Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer.
In a twitter thread posted Saturday, Near disclosed their first name, Dave, and explained that they had been bullied, ridiculed and humilated their entire life, but that the bullying site KiwiFarms had made it intolerable.
A friend posted a eulogy: "Near did not commit suicide. Near was murdered."
Near was a brilliant mind in a corner of the web all too often rife with toxicity and harassment. Despite this, they continued to pour their life into the one thing they loved: emulation and retro gaming. Developer of the bsnes, higan, and ares emulators, Near was a relentless force for accuracy in the formerly haphazard world of emulation. Working out the most elusive hardware glitches and corner cases, they advanced the world of SNES emulation by leaps and bounds. They also recently released their ultimate labor of love, a fan translation of Bahamut Lagoon that might well be the most exacting and meticulously crafted language adaptation of a video game of the era.
Near was also an incredibly kind, funny, and welcoming person. I'd known them for several years, but after they moved to Tokyo a few years back we started talking more often. One of the most modest people I've ever known, they were unlikely to suggest hanging out in person, but never rejected an offer. I wish I'd done that more often.
I am right in that cohort of people who found bsnes and was, in an odd way, found by it.