Tragedy has hit the emulation/game preservation community as one of the most prolific forces to have ever given their dedication to the scene is not with us anymore. Near (previously known as Byuu) has been allegedly confirmed by close friends and authorities to have passed away. The incident unfortunately seems to be the result of suicide. Near was the creator of SNES emulator bsnes, later known as higan, and pioneered near-perfect emulation of over 1,200 titles in pursuit of game preservation over the course of their efforts.
Near’s passing was preceded by a lengthy Twitter thread that seemed to express intent of self-harm. The thread also spotlighted an online cyberbullying campaign carried out by a hub known as Kiwi Farms against Near, who identified as non-binary. It was on June 27 that security consultant and hacker Hector “Marcan” Martin shared a Google Docs account by an alleged real-life mutual friend of Near’s that confirmed their passing. Marcan would go on to say that Japanese authorities had also confirmed the incident and that Near had passed away on June 27. Out of respect for the deceased, no other details were pursued.
(Warning, the following tweet is part of a thread that contains a highly graphical account of the matter)
I have spoken to the police department in charge of the investigation, and they have confirmed that Near passed away yesterday, June 27th 2021.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) June 28, 2021
In respect of their privacy, I will not be seeking out any further information. Please don't ask.
With the release of bsnes in 2004, Near became known for tireless work in exploring and understanding the structures of an enormous library of video games in order to craft the best possible emulation and long-term preservation of titles. Since they created higan, the emulator has expanded to include support for titles ranging through the NES, SNES, Game Boy/GB Color, Game Boy Advance, SG-1000/3000, Sega Master System, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, TurboGrafx-16/SuperGrafx, MSX/MSX2, ColecoVision, WonderSwan/WonderSwan Color, and Neo Geo Pocket/Neo Geo Pocket Color. More recently, Near had put their efforts towards an improved translation of 1996 classic TRPG Bahamut Lagoon.
The landscape of emulation and game preservation has been heavily shaped by Near’s contributions. Arguably, their efforts moved the conversation, understanding, the process, and the overall scene forward by countless degrees and it feels safe to say that sheer, vast progress might not have been possible in such a magnitude without them. If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, 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 is also openly available.