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Player lives on as character in favorite game after losing cancer battle

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James playsCreative Assembly

A gamer who lost his life to cancer will be memorialized in the latest version of the "Total War" series of games — his favorite, and the creators of which he was able to pay a visit thanks to a local charity.

The player, James (whose last name was withheld for his family's privacy) had liver cancer, and was told in mid-2012 that he had only a few months to live. He was a huge fan of the "Total War" series of games. Charity organization The Willow Foundation arranged it so that last summer, James, 24, could stop by Creative Assembly's studios in Horsham, U.K., where the games are developed.

As it turned out, the latest game in the franchise, "Rome: Total War II," was announced the day before James's visit. The Creative Assembly team was "moved, and humbled" by their fan's passion and knowledge of their games, and James was allowed to be the first person to play the new game, taking part in the siege of Carthage — typical of the large-scale warfare that has made the games so popular.

But the best was yet to come: After James had played the game, provided feedback and asked questions, an artist on the team suggested they actually put James in the game. Needless to say, he accepted.

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The digitization process, from photo to in-game.Creative Assembly

The image above shows the process of turning James's picture into a 3-D model for use in the game. What rank and position his character occupies in the game likely depends on how people play — we reached out for more info on this from Creative Assembly, in case future players would like to see the virtual James in action when the game comes out late this year.

James died not long after his visit to the studio. Craig Laycock, Creative Assembly's community manager, said that James's enthusiasm in the face of cancer and death affected the whole team.

"His approach to life was an inspiration — not only to me, but to the whole studio,"he wrote in a blog post. "When I say that, you have to understand what I mean. I don’t mean inspiration in the throwaway word sense. I mean a genuine inspiration — altering my perspective permanently."

Via Eurogamer

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is