The Xbox Diaries: The Hype

5 million people. Let me write it out for you: 5,000,000. Five Mil. That’s 10 million hands, 10 million eyes, and 50 million fingers. Five freaking million. That’s also the number of people that I shall dominate in Halo 3.

Some of you may have seen the commercials or seen some of the advertising onslaught for this new video game. If you didn’t then perhaps you are blind but I’m sure you still heard of it. But for those that don’t pay attention, here is a short synopsis, written in Haiku.

The Alien Horde
A soldier with a big gun
Nerds still don’t get laid.

That’s about it. It’s your basic first person shooter game with the common yet popular story line of one superhuman man against the vast alien horde. You kill them all, you win.

This is one of the most popular gaming series of all time and have been played by millions. And Halo 3 is to be the last installment of this story line so you can imagine it would be popular. The advertising machine kicked in and slowly but surely convinced all the weak minded individuals that they had to buy this game and these were not the droids that they were looking for.

5 million people pre-ordered the game before it even came out. Freaky.

Now normally I do not buy into the hype of such things. I realize that my tastes for total and utter destruction have matured since my Donkey Kong days. I require many things from my games now, namely good graphics, good story line and a great online environment. So when the big day came I didn’t buy the game. I didn’t pay any attention to it. I thought, pshhh, who needs Halo. I have my Atari 2600 classics right here on my hard drive. Qbert still rocks!

That lasted for about a day. Because then I realized that I was going to have a month off for paternity leave. That’s a lot of free time man, you have no idea. And maybe if I got it now I wouldn’t be such an asshat with all the other gamers out there and continue to get my ass kicked for an entire month when I finally do get online. Maybe if I started now I could be just as good as any of the other yahoo’s out there and they wouldn’t ask me what color my skirt is right when they rape and pillage my digital character.

So with a little help from big corporations and their merciless advertising onslaught, I talked myself into buying it within 24 hours of it’s realese. I bought into the hype but my expectations where still low.

I did not tell my wife I was going to buy it because I knew she would give me some flack for that. I was just kind of hoping that she wouldn’t notice I was playing a new game as she doesn’t pay attention anyway. And if she did find out then I could just say I rented it and we would be good to go. It didn’t help that I left the receipt for the game on the bed, in the box, from the Gamestop store. I told her it was my present to myself for being a new dad. Then I gave her some more Vicodin and we were good to go.

I first got on to distribute some Hossman justice. In the corner of the screen there is a counter that tells you how many people are online playing this specific game and highlights what parts of the world they are from. There were 700,000 people on line at that moment from all over the world. It was 2:00pm in the afternoon. Christ almighty, let the justice dispensing begin. I withheld any judgment of what all these people were online for and not at work or school as I was neither at work or school.

And to my shock, the game lived up to the hype. This happens so rarely that I was speechless. Most times the hype is so over blown and the end result sucks such major donkey balls that you wonder why you were excited in the first place. It’s like the Segway scooter. That turned out to be more of a “Hey, that’s cute” rather than the promised “Revolutionary”

In my experience now there are only two things that have lived up to the hype: The first time you get laid and playing Halo 3. I have either lived a very sheltered life or I have way high expectations. But maybe it’s more my attention span because my first shot at both lasted less than 3 minutes. But like a true champion, I jumped back on the horse.

I quickly learned the rules of this new digital world. First, if one gun is good, two guns are even better for bringing down digital death and destruction. Second, always take the Super Mario brother’s lessons to heart: if you are in trouble then jump, always. I am a gaming historian which is what makes me so good, I remember where I come from. Next, tea bagging appears to cross all gaming boundries and appears in every online game everywhere and if you do see it, it’s probably my face that are getting balls laid into it.

I am at a disadvantage when I play against the teenagers of the online world. They don’t have kids and so therefore have way more free time to practice. Also, and I hate to admit it, my uptake on new information is not as quick as it has been or as no where near as fast as theirs. It also doesn’t help that they seem to be able to love to cheat all the time. I tell my wife but she does nothing about it except to tell me to play nice and make friends.

Fuck friends, I want obedience. So I started my shaulin monk type training. My one big advantage over the young mouthy teens is that I don’t have a bed time. Suck on that Mr. 14 year old. While you were fighting with your mom for “just one more minute” I was playing my ass off, learning all the skills that I would need to dominate your ass like that abusive prison roommate that you are sure to have when you get caught stealing porno mags because you aren’t old enough to buy them. I also want to point out that I have had sex too. I throw that out there from time to time to make them feel inadequate when they start calling me the old man.

And slowly and surely, I started getting better and better. My son never slept during the day time that much which means that he was a night owl. I graciously told my wife that I would take him and would sit down in front of my machine of destruction, quietly practicing jump maneuvers off rocks. I grew strong and it was time for competition.

I joined up online. There were a million people online this time. I had never seen that many on before. I was a little nervous but with my son watching, I could not back down. I joined a slayer game, which is basically a free for all killing spree.

The game started and I stuck to the corners, patiently waiting. Another big advantage of an older player is that I don’t go off half cocked. I’m full Viagra, that’s when you go. I would see another simpleton walking through the map and I would stalk him. I would shoot at his feet and then change locations giving him a mind screw. He would quickly turn around only to find that I had already vanished. He would relax and then I would choose that time to give him a double dose of shotgun to the face. Namssoh (my online name) scores again.

To my surprise, I did very well. The game ended and I was up toward the higher end of scores. I was encouraged and thought that maybe this time I wouldn’t be the asswhip that is always trying to figure out why my digital character is stuck in the corner all the time. And then, on the screen, a message popped up. “You have been promoted.”

Fucking sweet.

The game keeps track of your experience and promotes you for al the world to see, including my enemies. To date, I have played roughly 200 individual online games and am now the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. There is even a website that anyone can go to to check out your stats: www.bungie.net. If you go, look up Namssoh. That might be the only time you will catch a glimpse of me and my kungfu style.

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