There’s a common stereotype of video-game aficionados as anti-social young guys, sitting in front of glowing monitors for hours on end instead of interacting with the wider society. 

Of course, such a stereotype, if it ever was accurate, doesn’t hold up so much these days, with 65 percent of U.S. households playing video games and two in five gamers being women.  

And a recent tragedy demonstrates that playing such games — rather than just having an isolating effect — can create bonds and help to build a sense of community, even if that community is a virtual one. 

On Labor Day weekend, Brian Wood, 33, senior designer of the popular “Company of Heroes” series of video games, was killed in a road collision in Washington state. Wood was driving with his pregnant wife, Erin, when, according to police reports, a Chevy Blazer crossed the center line and headed toward their car. Unable to prevent the collision, Wood swerved to put himself in the path of the SUV, thus saving the life of his wife and their unborn child. Two passengers in the Blazer were also killed, and the driver has been charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. 

In the weeks after the crash, gamers from around the world have sent their condolences and donations to a memorial fund set up for Wood’s widow and their son. 

On the gaming site, Erin Wood, who is due to deliver the baby in November, expressed her thanks and support: “Brian always told me about how close-knit and wonderful the video-game community was, but I had no idea until this tragedy just how special a group it really is,” she wrote. “From all the articles and comments, to the emails and donations, I am simply stunned and so touched by the love, kindness and generosity shown to me and my family.”