– Charlie Braithwaite
When Halo 2 came out in 2004 I remember running home from the shops with it cradled in my arms ready to spend all afternoon playing, only to find my dad using the television watching old episodes of The Sweeney. That is the first instance of Halo heartbreak I have endured, and after last night, it certainly wasn’t the last. A cold wintery Melbourne night seemed like the perfect time to open a bottle of wine and try out Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
The first mistake of the evening was to assume I was still good at Halo. At one point I placed 3rd in a regional Halo 2 competition (I was a cool teenager), so I assumed I could walk straight back into the game and be at least reasonably good at it. I called up a friend who I used to play with back in the day, he agreed to come over so that we could spend our Saturday night in the dark drinking wine together (still cool in my 20s). It took about five minutes of playing before the vein in my neck was the size of a grass snake, how was I so bad at this game? Well it turns out whilst I stopped playing until very recently, other people hadn’t put down the Halo games, these guys playing late on a Saturday night were good, and I mean really fucking good.
Shit got real fast, in one match all but one of our team bailed, it was 25: red team, -2: Blue team. How do you deal with that? I’m not one to back out of a game, so it was time to play dirty, and by dirty I mean repeatedly jump off a cliff to stop the humiliation. The highlight of this particular shit-storm was the last player on our team that wasn’t in my lounge with a glass of wine started to jump with us. It was beautiful.
Safe to say we soon left that party, which is when something magical happened. We were getting kills, decent regular kills. We pulled together in our red wine haze and started playing as a team. Sure we were still doing average, but it was an improvement on the 50 to -20 suicide incident. Going forward something drastically changed in my mental state, I was Batman after the back break incident, I was stronger and now full of vengeful rage. We kept progressing and reached a point where members of the opposite team were bailing from games to avoid our fury. My friend even said “That’s shit of them to all quit.” Keep in mind not even an hour ago we were on a cliff jumping spree. Competitive gaming really is something that brings the worst out in people.
As we kept going things turned ugly. I started trash talking, this is something I haven’t done in a long time. At one point “I hope you die in real life” genuinely passed out of my lips. The player had killed me with a plasma grenade in a video game that was made 11 years ago, and I wished actual death upon them. It wasn’t just a night of playing games anymore, it had become something so much more. Something was unleashed that had been dormant for many years, and maybe it’s best to keep some things locked up.