In a cramped room at a remote military outpost, two soldiers stand amidst the dead and dying, comrades and enemies alike among the fallen. This relatively routine mission has gone to Hell, and even if they can hold this location, chances are good it will be the last act of defiance in a battle already lost. One of them is thankfully armed with a shotgun, but the other has nothing more than an SMG and both are rapidly running out of ammo. Before the end, they resort to bludgeoning their foes until the incoming tide of attackers grows too much, and their blood-tinged vision slowly fades to black.
Their defeat is certain.
But, on that night in late 2006, the Halo 2 scoreboard told a different story, one in which my roommate and I had helped our team come back from a massive deficit to win a game of king of the hill on Lockout by literally one second. The final hill location had been inside the side-room at the lift empties into, and he and I had held it to the last. The sounds of unexpected victory brought curious residents to our door, and that match launched a nighttime adventure fraught with live chickens, power outages, a search for zombies, and an enormous sleep-over in our dorm’s lobby.
History is resplendent with pastimes that bring people together, both to share tales of old and in hope of creating new ones. As a guy, I’ve admittedly got more experience with traditionally male events: camping, hunting, fishing, amateur sports, bachelor parties, working on cars, going out for beers, etc. All of these gatherings are filled with the phrase “remember the time that…” and the very best ones become “the time that…” themselves. Now, I admittedly haven’t frequently participated in many items on that list, yet I have no shortage of such tales.
The reason is simple: video games. While I’ve never been part of a bowling league or a car club, I have for most of my adult life participated in bi-weekly, weekly, or even nightly play sessions, either in person at LAN parties or through online play. These gatherings have helped shaped who I am, provided stability during personal struggles, created numerous friendships, helped others flourish, and paved the way for more adventures than I can probably recall.
But recall them I hope to, and recount them as well, just as the standard-bearers, chroniclers, scorekeepers, announcers, and historians of lore have done. You can expect me to take great care to check each and every fact and facet within my memories, so that not a single exaggerated event or overblown detail will be left out. If you’re looking for insight into the soul or analysis of the social condition, feel free; I’m going to be telling tall tales about playing video games, and random stuff happened along the way. So prepare yourselves for such thrills as:
Falco vs. Samus!
Guilty Grind X2!
Halo Havoc Nights!
Demon Arts Hurricane!
Ranbow Six Beer Run!
Get In a Car Crash and Die!
Large Drink Hadouken!
The Baddest Company!
And so very, very many more!
With this series of articles, it is my genuine hope to both bring you enjoyment and, flying in the face of my earlier snide comment, share the importance of video games to someone my age in a context far beyond pushing buttons on a controller. It seems like every other week this or that news outlet is talking with an "expert" about how horribly games are destroying young men. And while I certainly won't shy away from the darker side of my favorite hobby - some of the stories wouldn't work without it - for the large part they are positive tales.
I'm writing them as much for myself as anyone else, becuase I'm not joking when I say they're becoming difficult to recollect. I urge anyoen who feels a spark while reading them to do the same. These are our bottom-of-the-ninth-homer, our twenty-pound bass that we threw back out of respect, our Camero that we red-lined and almost flipped; they are also our captain who didn't make it, our choke on the 18th hole, our first love we've never seen again.
These are our war stories.